Women's access to abortion after 20 weeks' gestation for fetal chromosomal abnormalities: Views and experiences of doctors in New South Wales and Queensland

Black, Kirsten I., Douglas, Heather and de Costa, Caroline (2015) Women's access to abortion after 20 weeks' gestation for fetal chromosomal abnormalities: Views and experiences of doctors in New South Wales and Queensland. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 55 2: 144-148. doi:10.1111/ajo.12305


Author Black, Kirsten I.
Douglas, Heather
de Costa, Caroline
Title Women's access to abortion after 20 weeks' gestation for fetal chromosomal abnormalities: Views and experiences of doctors in New South Wales and Queensland
Journal name Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0004-8666
1479-828X
Publication date 2015-01-01
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/ajo.12305
Volume 55
Issue 2
Start page 144
End page 148
Total pages 5
Place of publication Richmond, VIC Australia
Publisher Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background
Induced abortions after 20 weeks' gestation comprise around one per cent of all terminations in Australia and mostly occur following the diagnosis of a fetal anomaly. However, these abortions are overly represented in legal cases against doctors and challenging to organise in those states where abortion remains in the criminal code and health department directives impose regulations. This study explores barriers to abortion access after 20 weeks' gestation in the states of Queensland and New South Wales.

Materials and Methods
We approached and sought consent from 22 doctors involved in abortion provision (15 in Queensland and seven in NSW), who responded in depth to a set of clinical scenarios. This study presents participants' responses to three clinical scenarios of women presenting with a fetal chromosomal abnormality after 20 weeks' gestation.

Results
Of the 22 medical practitioners in this study, 18 reported that access to late-term abortion in their state was restricted. The two key factors perceived to affect the decision to terminate a pregnancy in this context were the legal status of abortion and Department of Health policies mandating that applications for abortion be presented to clinical ethics committees. Practitioners reported that committees were slow to convene and inconsistent in their decisions.

Conclusions
Ethics committee involvement for late-term abortions is required by state health policy in NSW and Queensland, where abortion is still a criminal offence. This process is seen by abortion providers to hinder timely access to services and excludes women from the decision-making process.
Keyword Clinical ethics
Fetal anomaly
Induced abortion
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
TC Beirne School of Law Publications
 
Versions
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 3 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 3 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Tue, 05 May 2015, 13:22:17 EST by System User on behalf of T.C. Beirne School of Law