PregnancyChoices

I’ve had unprotected sex, what do I do?

 If you have recently had unprotected sex or contraception failed; for example, a condom ‘broke’ and you don’t want to get pregnant, you may be able to take the emergency contraceptive pill, which used to be known as the ‘morning after pill’.  Emergency contraceptive pills must be taken within five (5) days of having unprotected sex.  They work best when taken as soon as possible after having unprotected sex.

Emergency contraceptive pills are available from most pharmacies by consultation with the pharmacist without the need for seeing a doctor to get a prescription.

Emergency contraception is very different to the medication that is needed to terminate a pregnancy once a pregnancy has been confirmed.

You can read more about emergency contraception here.

 

What should I do if I think I am pregnant?

If you think that you may be pregnant, you should take a pregnancy test as soon as possible.

Options for pregnancy tests include:

  • Using a home pregnancy test which you can buy from a chemist or supermarket
  • Seeing your local GP who can do a urine or blood pregnancy test
  • Seeing a Family Planning Doctor or Nurse

See our pregnancy page for more information.

 

Pregnancy Options:

As many as 1 in 3 women have an unplanned or unexpected pregnancy at some time in their life.

For some women, facing the decision about their pregnancy choices can be straight forward, for others the decision can be difficult.

There are a number of different pregnancy choices available to women.

Your pregnancy options include:

  1. Continue with the pregnancy and be a parent
  2. Continue the pregnancy and place the child for adoption
  3. Terminate the pregnancy (also called an abortion)

Your doctor or health professional can discuss these options with you. Family Planning Tasmania is a pro-choice organisation and offers non-judgemental, confidential, and respectful pregnancy counselling, you can also visit this website.

 

What if I am unsure about my decision?

If you are unsure and would like to discuss the pregnancy choices available to you, make an appointment with a Family Planning Tasmania Nurse for non-directional pregnancy counselling in one of our clinics:

  1. Burnie                 03 6431 7692
  2. Launceston        03 6343 4566
  3. Glenorchy          03 6273 9117

These appointments go for 30 to 45 minutes and usual FPT billing policies apply.

There are also several good websites that you can visit to read more about your options.

This website can help if you are unsure about your decision  or you can speak to someone at the Pregnancy Counselling service which is based in Hobart.

Under Australian law, it is a women’s choice whether to continue with a pregnancy or terminate. If you feel that you are being pressured into a decision that you are uncomfortable with, or if you are experiencing family violence (which may be physical, financial, verbal, emotional, or sexual abuse) you can contact the Respect hotline on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732 or www.1800respect.org.au), or you can talk to your doctor, a staff member at Family Planning, or the police. If you or someone else in your family is in danger, call 000.

SASS is a free and confidential service for people of all ages who have been affected by any form of sexual violence. The crisis response service is available for people who are experiencing trauma responses as a result of recent or historical sexual assault incidence. The 24 hr contact number for the service is 1800MYSUPPORT (1800 697 877) or you can visit their website.

    What if I want to continue with my pregnancy and become a parent?

    You might be feeling overwhelmed by now with all the new information you have heard or read. But the first and most important thing to do is to talk with a doctor or health nurse that can help you plan for your pregnancy.

    If you have a regular GP, they will be able to provide pregnancy care or refer you for pregnancy care. Or you can see a doctor a Family Planning Tasmania who can organise a referral to a pregnancy care provider.

    Now that you know you are pregnant, looking after yourself and your baby all the way through your pregnancy is really important. This means you may need to stop some behaviours such as smoking or drinking alcohol and introduce other new things into your routine like taking folic acid, iodine or other vitamin and mineral supplements.

    What if I want to find out more about adoption?

    If you would like to learn more about adoption services, you can find more information and a contact number for people to talk to here.

    Adoption is one option that women can consider when they are pregnant. Adoption means that you legally give the care of your child to another person. Adoption is legal and permanent. If you choose adoption it is not legally possible for you to make a final decision until after the baby is born.

    In Tasmania there are two services that deal with adoptions and both services can support you during your pregnancy. You will find links to their websites where you can access lots of information on what is involved and how the process works below.

    If you decide adoption is the right choice for you, you will still need to look after yourself during the pregnancy and consider such issues as ante natal care (getting regular health care and pregnancy checkups during the pregnancy).

    What if I want I want to terminate my pregnancy?

    You can talk about termination of pregnancy (abortion) with your doctor or health professional, you can also talk to Family Planning Tasmania.

    What if my regular doctor or health professional won’t talk to me about termination?

    If you want to learn more about or choose a termination and your doctor or health professional will not help you, he or she must refer you to another doctor or health professional who will help you. This is the law. If you urgently need a termination for medical reasons, you should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.

    Family Planning Tasmania is a pro-choice organisation which means that all of our Doctors and Nurses will help you if you want to talk about or decide to choose a termination.

    If you would like to find out more about termination of pregnancy in Tasmania, you can read on here or alternatively you can visit the Marie Stopes website.
    If English is your second language, the Marie Stopes website has information in several different languages and so does womenonweb.

    What is the Termination/abortion Legislation in Tasmania?

    In Australia, termination/abortion legislation varies from state to state.
    In Tasmania, termination of a pregnancy is legal up to the 16th week of pregnancy, and may also be available beyond that after assessment by two doctors. Here is a link to the legislation in full.

    Who can make the decision about Termination?

    If you are over 18 years old, and not under the care of an adult guardian because of a disability, and you can fully understand the implications of your decision, then you can make the decision to have a termination without the involvement of anyone other than your medical team.

    If you are over 16 years old and your doctor considers you are able to make your own decisions and that you fully understand the implications of your decision, then you can make the decision to have a termination without the consent of your partner, the person who you had unprotected sex with, or any other member of your family, including your parents.

    If you are under 16 years old, your doctor will need to consider your maturity and your ability to make important decisions and fully understand the implications of your decision. If you are considered to be mature enough and to have the ability to make an important decision about your medical treatment, then you will be able to make the decision to have a termination on your own. For some people under the age of 16, it may be necessary to have a person with parental authority available to help you or to make the decision to terminate with you.

    People of all ages may often prefer to have someone accompany them to the doctors for support, and if you are young you may prefer to have someone help you with decision making and consent.

    If an adult is coming with you, they may need to demonstrate to your doctor that they are supportive, will keep your information confidential, and are taking on board your wishes. If an adult is going to be providing consent, they must be someone who has parental authority for you and be able to provide evidence of this.

    An adult who does not have parental responsibility for you cannot give consent to medical treatment for you. If your doctor considers that you can make decisions for yourself, an adult cannot force your doctor to give you a medical treatment or procedure that you do not want.

    Is my information confidential?

    If you do not want anyone (other than your medical team) to know about your pregnancy or the termination of your pregnancy, you should inform your doctor and other health professionals assisting you.

    Giving Consent (agreeing) to a Termination

    Your doctor will ask you a series of questions to check that you understand what a termination of pregnancy is, that you are making the decision that is right for you, and that you have made the decision yourself.

    What options do I have for a termination of pregnancy in Tasmania?

    There are two main options for termination of pregnancy; medication terminations, and surgical terminations. You will need to see a doctor and have tests done regardless of whether you have a medication or a surgical termination.

    Medication Termination of Pregnancy (MTOP)

    You can only have a medication termination of pregnancy (outside of a hospital) before 9 weeks (63 days) of gestation/pregnancy.

    You will need to be assessed by a doctor to see if this option is right for you.

    For a medication termination, you will need to take two different types of medicine that come together in a pack called MS2 Step.

    You can take the medicines at home, or at the clinic with your doctor or other health professional.

    The first medicine you take is called Mifepristone, which is also sometimes known as RU-486.

    The second medicine is called Misoprostol. This medicine is taken 36-48 hours after the first tablet.
    There are videos you can watch to learn more about taking these medications here:

    Is a Medication Termination of Pregnancy suitable for me?

    • Your pregnancy must be less than 9 weeks (63 days) gestation for you to have a medication termination outside a hospital. You will need to have an ultrasound and blood tests to confirm the gestation period.
    • Your doctor will check your general health. Some medical conditions make medication terminations unsafe. You will need to tell your doctor if you have any health problems.
    • If you are healthy and your doctor considers that it is suitable for you to have a medication termination, your doctor will write a care plan for you explaining each step you need to follow for the early medication termination.
    • If you live in a remote community, you will need to travel and stay in town for the whole time it takes for the medication termination to occur. This will be around three to four days. This is because you need to be close to emergency care if needed.
    • Even though you can take the medicine away from the doctor or hospital, you must stay within one hours’ drive from emergency gynaecology care for the entire duration of the termination.
    • You must have 24-hour access to a phone in case you need to call for help. If you have a mobile phone, you must make sure that your phone is charged and topped up with ‘credit’ or on a full plan.
    • You must have a reliable support person available in case you need help during the three to four days after taking the medication.
    • You will need a health check-up about 14 to 21 days after the termination to make sure that the termination is complete and to discuss contraception options.

    Things to consider when having a medication termination:

    • The medicines for having medication terminations have been used around the world for a long time and have a low risk of complications.
    • Only one qualified doctor is needed to assess whether or not you are eligible for this type of termination.
    • If you are within one hours’ drive from emergency gynaecology care you can stay at home or at other safe accommodation for the termination.
    • After taking the medication, the process can take up to three or more days. During this time you must stay at home, have access to a toilet, some privacy and have someone with you that you trust and who can support you.
    • The bleeding will be heavier than a normal period. You will experience some cramping and you are likely to feel more pain than with a usual period. You may feel sick and have vomiting and diarrhoea. You can use painkillers like Panadol but may need a stronger painkiller as well as medication to help stop you feeling like vomiting.
    • In a small number of cases there is excessive bleeding that means you must go straight to a hospital for a medical assessment.
    • In a small number of cases, the medicine doesn’t work and you will need to go back to the doctor or clinic for more medication or for a surgical procedure.
    • If you are breastfeeding a child, you cannot give your breastmilk to the child for six hours after you take the medication. You will need to express the milk and dispose of it.
    • You may need an injection of Anti D dependant on your Rhesus (Rh) status. You may not know your Rh status, but one of the blood tests that you have when you come for your termination assessment is to check this.

    What’s Anti-D and Rhesus Status?

    People that are Rh negative need an injection of something called Anti D. Every person is either Rh positive or Rh negative. Most people are Rh positive (85%). Women who are Rh negative need to have an injection of Anti D with each pregnancy. Click here for more information on Anti D.

    How do I access a Medication Termination?

    There are several ways that you can access a medication termination.
    Family Planning Tasmania can provide some medication terminations.
    Other medication termination providers include: –
    www.tabbot.com.au
    www.mariestopes.org.au

    There are also some other medication termination providers in the north west and south of Tasmania.

    Family Planning Tasmania or your GP can help with the investigations and referral required for you to access either a telehealth option or a local provider.

    Family Planning Tasmania can also organise to have copies of your results sent directly to your chosen medication provider.

    It is important to have an early appointment with Family Planning Tasmania in order to allow time for the necessary investigations to be performed and for the results to get to the provider within the required gestation period.

    If you can’t get in quickly to see your regular doctor, it may be a good idea to see another doctor who can help you with the necessary investigations in the 63-day timeframe.

     

    Surgical Termination of Pregnancy (STOP)

    Most Tasmanians are eligible for a surgical termination of pregnancy up to 12 – 14 weeks of pregnancy, with limited options available through the Tasmanian public system.

    The surgical termination operation is done in a hospital or a day surgery. The process usually involves a suction curette (removal of tissue from the uterus) and in most cases is done under general anaesthetic.

    Things to consider when having a surgical termination

    • There is a low risk that the operation (a curette) will not remove all of the tissue forming part of the pregnancy. This can cause excessive bleeding and may mean that you need to have another operation.
    • You can sometimes develop an infection that needs to be treated with antibiotics after surgical termination.
    • There is a low risk that your cervix (opening to the uterus or womb) or the uterus itself can be damaged. This is rare and in most cases results in a small tear that heals itself.
    • There is a low risk of excessive bleeding and in a rare few cases a blood transfusion may be needed.
    • Any operation that needs to use an anaesthetic has risks. These risks are very low for healthy women. The doctor will explain the risks to you before the operation.
    • You may need an injection of Anti D dependant on your Rhesus (Rh) status. You may not know your Rh status, but one of the blood tests that you have when you come for your termination assessment is to check this.

    How can I access a surgical termination in Tasmania?

    If you have a GP, your GP can help you access a surgical termination or you can see a doctor at Family Planning Tasmania who can organise referral to a surgical termination provider. It’s important to see your doctor as early as possible to allow time for a referral to be processed.

    What if I need to have a termination after 16 weeks?

    After 16 weeks a doctor can provide a termination with your consent if your doctor reasonably believes that continuing the pregnancy would involve greater risk of injury to your physical or mental health than if the pregnancy was terminated.

    Your doctor must consult a second doctor who agrees with this. At least one of the doctors must specialise in obstetrics or gynaecology.

    What if I need an interpreter to access termination of pregnancy?

    If you need an interpreter for any language, your doctor or health professional can arrange an interpreter for you to be present over the phone.

    Telehealth options are not possible if an interpreter is required and medication termination options may also not be possible.

    If English is your second language and you would like to read more about termination of pregnancy in your first language, these websites may be able to help you:
    www.womenonweb.org
    www.mariestopes.org.au

    How will I feel following a termination of pregnancy?

    Most people who have made their own decision to terminate a pregnancy and have had appropriate support feel like they have made the right decision.

    Other people have mixed emotions and may feel sadness and loss.
    Doctors and nurses at Family Planning Tasmania can help you with pregnancy related support and counselling. If necessary we can refer you or your partner for up to three consultations with either a Psychologist, Social Worker, or Mental Health Nurse.
    These visits to a mental health worker may incur a cost.

    What if I can’t afford a termination?

    Financial assistance may be available for those in financial hardship. Some options may include:
    a. Youth Health Fund for those under 25 years of age (YHF)
    b. Women’s Health Tasmania Fund for those over 25 years of age. (WHF)
    c. Patient Transport Assistance Scheme (PTAS)

    In order to access these funds, certain criteria have to be met. Your Family Planning Tasmania Nurse can help you with determining suitability for accessing these funds.

    Other services that provide counselling on all pregnancy options...

    The following services provide advice, information and counselling on the full range of pregnancy options:

    Family Planning Tasmania (Burnie, Launceston or Glenorchy) Clinic Locations.

    Hobart Women’s Health Centre
    Telephone: (03) 6231 3212 or view their website.

    Pulse Youth Health South (for women under 25)
    Telephone: (03) 6233 8901 or view their website.

    The Link Youth Health Service (for women under 26)
    Telephone: (03) 6231 2927 or view their website.

    Women’s Health Information Line (statewide)
    Telephone: 1800 675 028

    MakeanAppointment
    Glenorchy
    9am-5pm Mon-Fri6273 9117
    Launceston
    9am-5pm Mon-Fri6343 4566
    Burnie
    9am-5pm Mon, Wed, Thurs6431 7692