All young women have the right to make their own decisions free of judgement or coercion.
For some, the decision will be clear, while others may be unsure which choice to make. As a teenager, making the decision about what to do can be very difficult. This might be the first big decision you have had to make for yourself. There is no right or wrong decision, only the best decision for you right now.
Once you have confirmed your pregnancy, you will need to work your way through three options.
- Adoption - Continue the pregnancy and consider adoption or alternative care
- Parent - Continue the pregnancy and become a parent
- Termination - Have a termination to end the pregnancy
This may be the first time you have made a significant decision about your life or you may not be used to making independent decisions. Either way, you are doing a great job just by reading through this website and considering this information.
You aren't alone!
These organsiation speak to lots of young people and teenagers about unplanned pregnancy and can give you advice that is free, confidential and non-judgemental. There are some pregnancy counselling services that are strongly against abortion and these services may try and influence your decision by providing you with mis-information. However, Children by Choice and Family Planning Queensland will respect your ability to make your own decision.
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You can lawfully access an abortion in Queensland. Even if you are under 16.
Due to a bunch of legal jargon, young women under the age of 16 can legally seek medical treatment without parental/gaurdian consent if you are able to show enough maturity and understanding in relation to the procedure.
Despite this, if you are under 16 AND don't have your parents concent, negotiating this process can be a little tricky. Abortion providers in QLD do prefer that teenagers have parental consent or are accompanied by their parents when accessing a termination. If you need any help with this, or your folks aren't supportive, please contact us so we can help support you.
Do not attempt to induce a miscarriage yourself! It is unlikely you will be successful and more likely to result in harming yourself, not the fetus.
A few facts to start with:
- There are approx. 200 000 unplanned pregnancies in Australia each year and almost half of all unplanned pregnancies in Australia end in an abortion.
- 1 in 3 Australian females will choose abortion in their lifetime.
- Women from age 12 to 50 access pregnancy terminations. The most common age bracket is 20-24.
- 91% of abortions occur before 14 weeks gestation.
(for full references and further statistics check out Children by Choice's Facts & Figures page)
What is an abortion?
An abortion is when a pregnancy is intentionally ended so that it does not result in the birth of a child. It refers to the medical or surgical termination of a pregnancy. The best method for you will depend on how long you have been pregnant, which options is most suitable and what you would prefer. It is performed lawfully in hospitals and termination clinics in Queensland.
Surgical termination is a day procedure performed in a hospital setting.
Medical termination is when you take medication (pills) to terminate the pregnancy, this can take a couple of days for the body to complete.
Some things to know:
- Abortions are lawful when they are performed to protect the pregnant woman's mental and physical health.
- Abortion is generally regarded as a very safe procedure and complications are rare. 1
- Young women under 16 don’t necessarily need parental consent for an abortion if they can show sufficient maturity and understanding in relation to the procedure. If you are under 14, additional requirements are in place. (Please contact Children by Choice for more information).
- The costs can vary between $410 - $4000 depending on how many weeks gestation the pregnancy is and whether or not the woman has a Medicare card/ Health care card/ Pension card. See below for more information about costs.
The process for a surgical abortion:
- Registration, payment & blood test
- See the doctor & obtain informed consent
- Get dressed into a surgical gown
- Anesthetist will sedate you
- Have the procedure ( only around 10 minutes)
- Recovery (waking up from anesthetic)
- Someone to pick you up and take you home.
In total, it is usually around 3-4 hours.
You do not need a referral from a doctor to make an appointment at a termination clinic.
The process for a medical abortion:
- You will visit a doctor and they will confirm the gestation of the pregnancy via ultra sound or blood test.
- The doctor will give you the first medication to take in their office.
- Then you will get a script for the second medication and take this at home roughly 24 hours after first medication.
- The second medication causes something like a miscarriage. This can cause strong cramping and heavy bleeding.
- You will then HAVE to go back to the doctor for a follow up consultation. This is to check the process has completed successfully and if any follow up is required. This can be an opportunity for you to talk about contraception with the doctor too.
- Prices start to rise at most clinics once the pregnancy reaches 11 weeks gestation, with steep increases from 14 weeks onwards. For this reason it's vital to recognise that abortion is a time-sensitive decision.
- Costs vary according to your gestation (how many weeks pregnant you are), what clinic you go to, and the costs you might incur getting there (if you live far away from the nearest clinic). They start from around $450 and rise to $3000. Please call Children by Choice or the clinic for accurate pricing for you.
- Getting the money together for an abortion can be a daunting task. If you need help getting the money together, please contact us. We cannot always provide funds ourselves, but we have a few ideas where you might be able to go for help. Also, check out our "where can i get help" page.
- The prices of an abortion constantly change. Click on the botton below. It will take you to the Children by Choice website's list of clinics costs and locations.
Will anyone find out about the abortion?
Doctors, nurses and other health workers cannot give out your personal information without your consent. There is an exception to this - when they feel you may be in serious danger. There will be a record of a medical procedure (not an abortion, just a medical procedure) on your medicare history and the date of the procedure, however this information can be access if the cardholder rings medicare for a tax statement. Cardholders will not be automatically informed when someone one the cards uses the medicare card.
You can get your own medicare card click here for more information.
Do I have to tell my boyfriend / partner / husband / man involved?
No. You do not have to tell anyone you don't want to. Including the man involved, he has no legal right to be informed of your decision. Some men may want to be supportive or be involved in the decision, but ultimately this is entirely up to you. For more information check out Bits for Boys or My Rights.
Can I bring someone to the clinic with me?
Of course. In fact you must have a support person to bring you home. They may come with you into the clinic to attend the initial consultation with the counsellor if you want them to. Your support person must be a reliable adult, such as a parent, youth worker or older sibling. It is not possible for support people to be with you in the examination or procedure room. They will be contacted when it is time to pick you up.
What happens afterwards?
It is normal to have some bleeding and cramping following an abortion but not all women will experience this. Pain can be managed with regular pain relief (except asprin) and bleeding is managed with sanitary pads. The clinic staff will also give you some other instructions in regards to preventing infection and a follow up check-up. With most surgical abortions, you will be well enough to return to school, work or uni the next day. With medical abortion you will need more rest.
How will I feel afterwards?
Every woman will feel differently after an abortion and it may take a few days for the hormones in your body to settle down. These hormones may make you feel not yourself or a bit emotional. It is normal to experience a range of emotions, such as:
These feelings are OK and will come and go. Be kind to yourself and talk with someone you trust. Call us (07) 3357 5177 or 1800 177 725 (if outside Brisbane) if you are concerned about anything or want to talk through these feelings.
If you would like to know more information about what is involved after you make the decision to terminate - click to the What's next - "Decision to terminate" page. Or call us on (07) 3357 5377 or 1800 177 725 and we can talk through your questions.
1 Wile minor surgery or the administration of medication does carry some risks in Australia, where health care standards are of high quality and health care providers are properly trained, abortion is one of the safest medical procedures. World Health Organization, 2003. Safe Abortion: Technical and Policy Guidance for Health Systems, Geneva, Switzerland. Available: http://www.who.int/reproductive-health/publications/safe_abortion/safe_abortion.pdf, Accessed: 02/10/2006.
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Adoption is quite an involved process, this is the short version and a list of frequently asked questions. If you need more information, visit the Children by Choice webpage on adoption or visit Adoption Services QLD.
What is adoption:
Adoption is a permanent process where you hand over legal guardianship of your child to the adoptive family.
The adoption process encourages you to take the time to think about your decision and has a few opportunities for you to change your mind.
If you are considering adoption, talk with a social worker at the hospital so they can help ensure the process is sensitive to your needs at birth.
This paperwork cannot start until you have given birth.
You will undertake pre-consent counselling with Adoption Services QLD. This is to ensure you have all the information and time you need to ask questions and think about your choice.
The earliest parents can sign the adoption consent form is 30 days after birth and 14 days after their last pre-consent counselling session after birth.
Before signing the adoption consent form, the birth parents can have as much or as little contact with the child as they wish. They can take the baby home with them or the child will be placed with approved carers while the parents consider their options.
Parents can change their mind up to 30 days after consent.
Rights and responsibilities:
Both parents must give their consent in order for a child’s adoption to proceed. The only exception is where the Children’s Court of Queensland has made an order saying they don’t have to and this would only be because:
- The child was a result of sexual assault
- The parent does not have capacity to give consent
- The identity or location of the parent cannot be established
- Harm would result from the man involved if he was made aware of the baby or proposed adoption
Parents can express preferences about the type of adoptive family they would like their child placed with, including the religion, cultural background, age and lifestyle of the couple.
Parents can also have their say about having ongoing contact with the child and adoptive parents.
When selecting the most suitable adoptive parents for each child, Adoption Services QLD considers:
- all preferences expressed by the child's birth parents
- the child's particular needs
- the characteristics of the couples assessed as suitable to be adoptive parents.
The birth mother is encouraged to name the child before signing the consent form, however she may also choose not to.
Once the adoption order has been made (and after the 30 day ‘cooling off’period), there is no legal way for the birth parents to get the child back.
If you would like to know more information about what is involved after you make the decision to adopt- click to the What's Next - "Decision to Adopt" page.
I am under 18; can I still place the child for adoption?
Yes. There is no age restriction on the birth parents for placing a child for adoption. However, there is a requirement for independent counselling.
Do I need my parents/guardians permission?
No, only the child’s birth parents are required to consent to the adoption. However, it is helpful to have a parent/guardian or adult you trust to support you through the process.
Do I have to tell my boyfriend/ partner husband/man involved about the adoption?
Yes, both parents must give their consent in order for a child’s adoption to proceed. Under special circumstances, the Children’s Court can make an order to dispense this consent, such as where a parent’s identity is unknown or they cannot be found.
What if the birth father wants to stop the adoption?
If the father wants to stop the adoption process, he needs to apply for a Parenting or Residence Order. This must be done through the Family Court.
Can I give the child to someone I know?
You cannot choose the adoptive family under a traditional adoption agreement. There are some options around kinship care arrangements and these are arranged through the family courts. Adoptions Services Queensland are best equipped to answer questions regarding all forms of adoptions arrangements.
Can I pick the family the child is adopted by?
No. Birth parents can make their preferences known in regards to adoptive parents but cannot choose individuals. The Department encourages mothers to state their wishes regarding the type of family and will endeavour to honour these wishes where possible.
What happens next if I choose adoption?
Adoptions in Queensland are arranged by the Adoption Services Unit within Child Safety. At any time during the pregnancy you can contact the Adoption Services Queensland unit, a public hospital social worker, or a private hospital nurse counsellor to discuss the adoption process and how to proceed. It is also best to notify hospital personnel upon hospital admission that adoption is being considered. This assists hospital staff to be more sensitive to your needs. The length of the entire adoption processes in Queensland can vary considerably and will depend on the circumstances of each adoption.
Check out our Useful Website and Support Organisations page
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Continuing the pregnancy means you are choosing to parent and be the primary carer of your child. Pregnancy is generally 40 weeks long. Deciding to parent can be very exciting time and this section answers a number of frequently asked questions from young women.
Things to know:
- There is no legal age for which you can get pregnant or choose parenting.
- No one (not even your parents or the man involved) can force you to continue the pregnancy and parent. This is your decision.
- There is no formula or check list for parenting, the majority of the work and choices is up to the individual.
- If you have had contact with the The Department of Child Safety before, you may be more likely to be on their 'radar', however choosing to parent or terminate is not a 'risky' behaviour and will not mean the Deparment of Child Safety will be involved in your pregnancy or child's life.
- You will be legally responsible for your child until they turn 18 and this includes their
- Health care
- Emotional & physical & mental health
- Food & clothing
Do I have to involve the father of my child?
The decision around an unplanned pregnancy is entirely the woman’s. However, once the baby is born the father of the child does have rights and responsibilities. The father is legally responsible to share financial support for a child with the mother, regardless of the relationship between the parents. The father has a right to see his child and be part of their life, except where there are concerns around safety. There will be many changes for you and also your relationship with the father of your child regardless of whether you are a couple or not. It is extremely important that you both maintain a healthy relationship.
What happens if my boyfriend/partner/the man involved in the pregnancy or parents/guardians will not support me?
Often parents/guardians or the man involved in the pregnancy change their minds. They may need some time to think before they are able to provide the support and help that you need. However, if you are on your own or have little support, there are organisations that can help you. It is very important that you do get linked in with these services for support and advice. Go to our Useful Websites & Support Organisations page for more info.
Is it bad for my body to have a baby?
Most young women have healthy pregnancies and babies, however some teens may experience more complications during pregnancy and childbirth than older women. This is generally due to a physical immaturity, poor knowledge and access to healthcare during the pregnancy or not receiving care until late in the pregnancy, having a poor diet or high levels of emotional distress. Most of these factors can be reduced or removed if you take good care of yourself throughout the pregnancy.
Can I get financial support from Centrelink?
Yes, if you are an Australian citizen or a permanent resident then you will be entitled to either Parental Leave Pay or the Baby Bonus. There are also a number of other payments you may be entitled to including the child care rebate for out-of-pocket expenses for approved child care if you are working, training or studying. Go to our Info for young parents section for more info on Centrelink payments.
Can I stay at school?
Yes, staying connected to education is an important element in ensuring positive outcomes for you and your child. If you wish to remain in school during the pregnancy (which many pregnant teens do) you will need to tell someone at your school due to health and safety concerns. Certain school staff can also provide you with valuable support and information. These include the School Based Youth Health Nurse, Guidance Counsellor, Youth Support Coordinator or anyone else that you trust at your school. See our practical information section for information on what the school must do to support you and returning to education options. Go to the My Rights, choose Education for more info.
Can the school ask me to leave or expel me?
No. All young pregnant or parenting students in Queensland are entitled to the same level of educational opportunity as other students. You have a right to remain at school. If you are experiencing discrimination it is important to speak with the principal or another member of school staff, like the Guidance Counsellor, for support. To find out more about your rights to stay in school, go to www.education.qld.gov.au
If you would like to know more information about what is involved after you make the decision to parent- click to the What's next - "Decision to parent" page.
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