Healthy living

Abortion in Western Australia

  • The process to end or terminate a pregnancy is called abortion.
  • Abortion is legal in Western Australia.
  • Every woman or pregnant person in Western Australia has the right to make their own choice about whether to have an abortion, or continue with a pregnancy, so long as legal requirements are met.

The Abortion Legislation Reform Act 2023 takes effect on 27 March 2024.

The legislative changes remove unnecessary barriers to accessing abortion health care in Western Australia. Under the new laws:

  • there will be fewer legal barriers for people seeking abortion care.
  • for an abortion up to 23 weeks only one health professional needs to be involved; after 23 weeks two doctors are required.
  • early medical abortions (up to 9 weeks) will be able to be provided by nurse practitioners and endorsed midwives as well as doctors.

Learn more about changes to the legislation (external site).

Is abortion safe?

Abortion is a safe procedure. Generally, the earlier in the pregnancy you have an abortion, the safer it is. Therefore, it is important to discuss your options with a health care provider, such as your general practitioner, as early as possible.

An abortion may involve taking medicines or having an operation and the options available to you will depend on your individual situation.

Your health care provider will discuss possible complications of having an abortion or continuing the pregnancy. Although serious complications are not common, all medical and surgical procedures have some risks.

For more information go to the King Edward Memorial Hospital website (external site).  

How is an abortion performed?

There are 2 types of abortions:

  • Medical abortion uses medication to end a pregnancy. In most cases it is available up to 63 days (9 weeks) of pregnancy.
  • Surgical abortion usually involves a day procedure under general anaesthetic done in a clinic or hospital.

You should talk to your doctor or health care provider before deciding which one is right for you. This will also depend on how many weeks pregnant you are and your individual circumstances.

When can an abortion be performed?

An abortion can be performed up to 23 weeks pregnant.

If you are under 9 weeks pregnant (63 days) your general practitioner (GP) can provide you with an early medical abortion. If you are over 9 weeks gestation, your GP will refer you to an abortion care provider. You can also make an appointment with an abortion care provider (PDF 862KB).

Pregnancy can be measured from the first day of your last menstrual period and/or confirmed by an ultrasound. 

Where do I go for abortion services?

A state wide abortion care helpline can be contacted on 1800 4 CHOICE (1800 424 642).

This service provides phone support, information, and emotional support and counselling, for consumers and health professionals on abortion procedures, available options, and local service providers. The service is provided 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays).

What if I am 23 weeks pregnant or more?

If you are more than 23 weeks pregnant when you request an abortion, 2 doctors must consider all your circumstances and agree the abortion should be performed. The doctors must consider:

  • all your relevant medical circumstances
  • current and future physical, psychological and social circumstances; and
  • professional standards and guidelines commonly accepted by members of the medical profession in relation to the performance of the abortion.

Who can perform an abortion?

A medical practitioner can perform surgical and medical abortions on a pregnant patient when the procedure used is within their scope of practice and training.

Nurse practitioners and endorsed midwives can perform a medical abortion in certain limited circumstances by administering or prescribing medication to end a pregnancy up to 63 days (9 weeks pregnant).

A pharmacist is authorised to supply an abortion drug to the pregnant patient when prescribed.

How do I access an abortion?

Pregnant patients can ask their usual health care provider (or GP) if they offer an abortion service.

The options available will depend on how many weeks pregnant you are (gestation), where you live, your personal circumstances and the type of abortion you may need.  For information on abortion services available in Western Australia download Information for patients – abortion services (PDF 862KB).

How much does an abortion cost?

The cost of the abortion will depend on how far pregnant you are, whether you have a medical or surgical abortion and where you have the procedure.

Some costs are covered through Medicare and the fees will be less if you are eligible for Medicare benefits. Talk to your health care provider if you are unable to afford an abortion or see Information for patients – abortion services (PDF 862KB).

Will my general practitioner (GP) be able to prescribe abortion drugs?

This will depend on several factors, including:

  • how far pregnant you are
  • your medical history, e.g., any health problems
  • whether the GP is confident on how to prescribe the abortion drug.
  • if your GP does not want to be involved in abortion care because it conflicts with their own beliefs and values (this is referred to as a conscientious objection).
  • whether your GP believes referral to a specialist doctor is required.

Can a prescription for abortion drugs be dispensed from any community pharmacy?

Not all pharmacies stock the abortion drugs, so it is advised to call ahead to see if they have the medication in stock.

What if my health care provider can’t or won’t help me?

A health practitioner may decide not to participate in an abortion because it conflicts with their own beliefs and values. This is called a ‘conscientious objection’.

If this happens the health practitioner must disclose their objection. A doctor, nurse practitioner or enrolled midwife must then refer you to an abortion provider, or provide you with the information, approved by the Chief Health Officer, which specifies how and where abortion services can be accessed (PDF 862KB).

This requirement does not alter the duty required of a registered health practitioner to participate in an abortion in an emergency situation.

What if I am under 18 years of age?

Some people under 18 years of age have the maturity to make their own decisions about abortion.

If you are pregnant and aged less than 18 years and have been assessed as having sufficient maturity, understanding and intelligence to consent to your own medical treatment by your health practitioner, it is your choice whether to involve your parent or guardian in your decision to have an abortion.

If you are pregnant and aged less than 18 years and you are assessed as not ablet to make a medical decision, your options are to:

  • agree to allow the registered health practitioner to talk to your parent or guardian about the decision.
  • refuse to allow the registered health practitioner to talk to your parent or guardian about the decision. In this circumstance, the registered health practitioner may apply to the Supreme Court or Family Court of WA for a decision on whether the abortion should occur.

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.