Abortion Access

Abortion in the ACT

Finding out you are pregnant is different for everyone. Regardless of your situation, this may be a stressful time where you may need information and support to feel confident to make a decision that is right for you.

Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT (SHFPACT) and Marie Stopes Australia (MSA) both provide respectful, non judgemental and non directive counselling to provide accurate information and support to people experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. Your General Practitioner (GP) may also be a good source of support, with some GPs having undertaken training to provide non-directive pregnancy counselling.

Abortion can be accessed in the ACT up to 16 weeks gestation. Medical abortions up to nine weeks gestation can be available through a trained GP, telehealth services or with MSA. MSA or Gynaecology Centres Australia offer surgical abortions up to 14-16 weeks gestation (depending on surgical risks). In specific cases, the Canberra Hospital can provide abortions, including at later gestations.

For access to abortions beyond 14-16 weeks gestation that cannot be safely performed at the MSA clinic in Canberra, patients need to organise an appointment with an MSA clinic in Sydney, as well as travel and any other relevant requirements.

There are no publicly available lists of GPs who are trained to provide medical abortions, but your GP or SHFPACT should be able to assist you with this.

Information about abortion options and support services is available from:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a medical and surgical abortion?

Medical abortion means the prescription, supply or administration of an abortifacient (medicines causing an abortion, such as MS-2 Step).

  • This option is available to women and pregnant people up to nine weeks gestation and involves taking prescribed medications Mifepristone and Misoprostol. These medications are sold together as MS 2 Step.
  • Generally, a blood test for the pregnancy hormone level (B-hCG) and an ultrasound to confirm dates and the presence of the pregnancy within the uterus are required prior to proceeding with the abortion.
  • GPs are able to undertake specific training to provide prescriptions of MS-2 step.
  • Pharmacists are able to undertake specific training to dispense the MS-2 step medication.

Surgical abortion means a surgical procedure (other than the administration or supply of an abortifacient) that causes a pregnancy to end prematurely.

  • This option is available to women and pregnant people and involves a day surgery procedure. This is available in the ACT up to 14-16 weeks gestation. Within the ACT, this is only available at Marie Stopes Australia. Gynaecology Centres Australia has a clinic in Queanbeyan offering surgical termination up to 14 weeks gestation.
  • Canberra Hospital only performs abortions under specific medical circumstances.

 How will I know if my GP can prescribe the abortion medication?

You will need to ask your GP or GP practice receptionist for this information. Alternatively, you can contact Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT for GP or telehealth provider details in your area.

How will I know if my pharmacist can dispense the abortion medication?

GPs who prescribe medication for a medical abortion generally provide details of which pharmacies are able to dispense the medication.

I live in bordering NSW regions, can I access abortion services in the ACT?

Yes, anyone can access private abortion services from ACT providers.

Information for healthcare providers

I’m a GP and interested in undertaking the training. How can I access training?

GPs are required to undertake specific training to be qualified to prescribe medical abortion medications.

Online training is available through the Marie Stopes Australia website.

Once you have completed the training, you can advise the local HealthPathways team who can add you to their GP colleague referral list within the Termination of Pregnancy Referrals - Community HealthPathways ACT and SNSW. You may also wish to inform SHFPACT and local colleagues.

I’m a pharmacist and interested in undertaking the training. How can I access training?

Pharmacists are required to undertake specific training to be qualified to dispense medical abortion medications. Online training is available through the Marie Stopes Australia website.

Once you have completed the training, you can advise the local HealthPathways team who can add you to their list of MS-2 Step Dispensing Pharmacies within the Termination of Pregnancy Referrals - Community HealthPathways ACT and SNSW.

How do I know where I can refer my patients for an abortion?

ACT/SNSW HealthPathways has information on termination of pregnancy, including a referral pathway which lists  some local GP colleague referral options, local service providers and MS-2 Step dispensing pharmacies: Termination of Pregnancy (TOP) - Community HealthPathways ACT and SNSW.

What are exclusion zones?

Exclusion zones are protected areas of a set distance around a facility that provides medical and/or surgical abortions. An exclusion zone ensures privacy and unimpeded access to anyone entering or leaving the facility between 7am and 6pm.

Currently, Marie Stopes Australia is the only facility in the ACT with an exclusion zone. This facility has a 50-metre exclusion zone in place to allow patients to access the facility without fear of demonstrations or protests.

Abortion is permissible under the Health Act 1993. GPs and Pharmacists can apply to have an exclusion zone declared around their facility. A declaration is made by the Health Minister. If you would like to apply for an exclusion zone, please contact the Minister for Health.

Local support services

Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT (SHFPACT)

SHFPACT’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinic offers health services, testing and advice for the Canberra community, including free counselling services for women and pregnant people experiencing unplanned pregnancy and referrals to abortion services as needed or requested.

Marie Stopes Australia

Marie Stopes Australia provides supportive and non-judgemental family planning and abortion services to the Canberra community.

Page last updated on: 17 Jun 2022