Abortion Care Service

Abortion care in WA for health professionals

Abortion is legally available in Western Australia if undertaken before 20 weeks' gestation.

Early medical abortion is available at less than 9 weeks' gestation, at local or community abortion clinics and some general practices. Evidence shows abortion is safest when performed before 13 weeks' gestation.

Surgical abortion is available at local or community abortion clinics and some public hospitals.

If you are the referring doctor, please see the Abortion Care information below for your legal obligations.

 

Abortion care: Information legal obligations for medical practitioners

Abortion information for medical practitioners booklet (PDF)

Abortion: An information booklet for consumers

Abortion: An information booklet for consumers (PDF)

Abortion: After 14 weeks when there is a fetal anomaly

Abortion: After 14 weeks when there is a fetal anomaly (PDF)

Download Abortion care: information and legal obligations for medical practitioners booklet (PDF) for further information on legal obligations for medical practitioners with the current law in Western Australia, as well as information about support services available at WNHS and in the community for people experiencing an unintended pregnancy.

 

From 20 weeks' gestation, additional legal requirements apply

Section 334(7) of the Western Australian Health Act allows for an abortion if a gestation of 20 weeks has been reached when there are severe medical conditions (but imposes additional legal requirements).

Please contact the Family Services Coordinator at Women and Newborn Health Service (WNHS) King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEMH) to discuss these additional requirements on (08) 6458 2222.

The Abortion care: information and legal obligations for medical practitioners booklet provides further information on legal obligations for medical practitioners as per current law in Western Australia, as well as information about support services available at WNHS and in the community for people seeking Abortion Services.

 

Abortion care at WNHS

Routine abortion is generally provided through private clinics in the community. WNHS does not provide a routine abortion service; however, we do have an abortion service to assist patients who may not meet the referral criteria for private clinics.

To facilitate care for women in specific circumstances, abortion care is provided at WNHS if:

  • medical co-morbidities / anaesthetic issues / social circumstances exclude them from community-based abortion providers; OR
  • they are requesting a medical abortion after 9 weeks' gestation and before 20 weeks' gestation; OR
  • they have a defined fetal abnormality identified in this pregnancy; OR
  • they are aged 14 years or less.

Adolescents under 14 years requesting an abortion will be seen and managed at WNHS. This is a specialised service available to all young women aged 14 years and under from across WA.

Women with restricted financial circumstances that would preclude them from accessing community abortion clinic services, may also be referred to WNHS for assistance with a referral. The initial consultation is conducted via telephone call between the Family Services Coordinator and the patient.

Women with pregnancies that have been identified as high risk of congenital conditions from first trimester screening testing, or anatomical ultrasound, should be referred to the Maternal Fetal Medicine Unit at WNHS King Edward Memorial Hospital, or Fiona Stanley Hospital, for further investigations and counselling.

 

Clinical inclusion for abortion care at WNHS

Confirmed pregnancy and requesting abortion, AND either:

  1. medical or surgical comorbidities, or history of anaesthetic problems, or social circumstances, that would prevent them from accessing a community abortion service; OR
  2. requesting a medical abortion after 9 weeks' gestation and before 20 weeks' gestation; OR
  3. requesting abortion under 14 years of age; OR
  4. requesting abortion for defined fetal abnormality (refer to Maternal Fetal Medicine Service).

 

Clinical exclusion

Request for routine abortion – refer to a community provider of medical abortion or local community abortion provider. If you would like further information on where your patient can seek a routine abortion, please review information in the Abortion Care booklet above, and contact the Family Services Coordinator at WNHS on (08) 6458 2222 if further assistance is needed.

Please note: In situations of financial distress, or request for medical abortion after 9 weeks' gestation, please send referral direct to WNHS, marked:

'Attention Family Services Coordinator, Urgent referral.'

Concerns regarding results of first trimester screening or fetal anomaly detected on ultrasound – contact the Maternal Fetal Medicine Fellow or consultant, via WNHS at KEMH Switchboard (08) 6458 2222.

Pregnancy gestation greater than 20 weeks – Section 334(7) of the WA Health Act allows for an abortion if a gestation of 20 weeks has been reached, when there are severe medical conditions (but imposes additional legal requirements). Please contact the Family Services Coordinator or Gynaecology Social Worker on call at WNHS to be guided through this process on (08) 6458 2222.

 

Frequency of clinic

As required.

 

Referral to include

  • Medical, surgical and obstetric history, clearly outlining medical issues of concern
  • Investigations and results relevant to this pregnancy, if they have been performed – ultrasound, blood group and screen and FBP
  • An abortion referral statement addressing legal requirements for informed consent, to confirm:
    • that pregnancy options have been discussed
    • the medical risks of continuing the pregnancy and risks of ending the pregnancy have been discussed
    • the availability of counselling before and after the abortion has been explained and offered.

 

Urgent referral

Contact the Family Services Coordinator at WNHS on (08) 6458 2222.

If unavailable, contact the On-call Gynaecology Registrar via Switchboard (08) 6458 2222.

If also unavailable, or additional assistance is needed, contact the On-call Gynaecology Social Worker via Switchboard (08) 6458 2222.

 

Referral process

For those eligible for WNHS Abortion care services, or in situations of financial distress please send the referral as per process below:

  • Email a detailed referral to WNHS referral coordinator KEMH.referrals@health.wa.gov.au
  • Include in subject line:
    'Attention Family Services Coordinator, Urgent referral'.
  • Alternatively, fax details to (08) 6458 1031.

Do not send referrals via Central Referral Service as there may be time critical delays in the referral being received.

 

Resources

Last Updated: 23/09/2022