This Is What It’s Actually Like To Have An Abortion In Australia

At last weekend’s Women’s March in Sydney, where Australians
marched in solidarity against the inauguration of President
Donald Trump (who
has said he plans to pave the way for Roe v. Wade to
be overturned), many protesters said they were concerned
about access to reproductive rights in this country,

“We’re still not where we need to be. We still don’t have legal
abortion in many states here,” one protester, Ella Bickley,

told BuzzFeed News.

Another, Cailie, who didn’t want to give her surname, said that
women’s representation in government was essential to
preserving women’s rights.

“How are men meant to make a decision about women’s bodies when
they have no understanding of that experience?” she said.

Bills to decriminalise abortion have been introduced in both
New South Wales, where it remains in the criminal code, and
are expected to be debated this year.

As part of a global reporting project to coincide with the 44th
anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark court case that
affirmed a woman’s legal right to have an abortion in the
United States, BuzzFeed
asked members of the BuzzFeed
Community to share their abortion stories through
this form, which was shared widely and translated into
several languages.

In some regional areas, Australian women have to travel for
hours to the nearest abortion clinic, while those in capital
cities can face being confronted by anti-abortion protesters
when they seek a termination. Women opened up about the events
that led them to have abortions, and the way they felt

These are some of their stories.

“I had an abortion when I was 23. My partner at the time and I
made the decision together, and he accompanied me to the
clinic. Despite the experience being quite traumatic in its
entirety, the most harrowing thing for us both was the
disturbing level of harassment we both experienced from the
protesters as we tried to enter the clinic. They surrounded our
vehicle and pointed their phones at us as if taking pictures,
followed us right up to the door, whilst getting right up in
our personal space despite the efforts from the security guard.

“My private health insurance covered the bulk of the cost, and
the process on the day was well organised. The doctors and
staff explained everything at all times and made me feel as
much at ease as possible. I suffered complications after the
surgical procedure, and the staff were genuinely amazing. I
felt safe and under the best care whilst inside their facility.
They even followed up on both myself and my partner days after
to ensure we were OK emotionally and physically.

“Despite this, I still get most anxious thinking about the
protesters. For a time I was unable to drive near the area
without feeling highly anxious, and I struggled with depression
for some time after.”

– Anonymous, 26

“I found out I was eight weeks pregnant after I’d broken up
with an abusive boyfriend.

“I flew to Melbourne and had a medical done the next day. The
staff were understanding and incredibly helpful with all my
questions but I felt the whole thing was so surreal and I was
in shock the entire time. I had a backup of money and there
weren’t any questions asked by my family when I said I was
going to Melbourne, so it was expensive but I could afford it.

“Having that experience did change me, but for the better. I
feel I can now take a broader view of life and support those
around me who feel like they need to make the same

– Rose, 18

“Having a child at 19 may be okay for some but I thought I was
simply too young. I was halfway through my university degree
(primary education) and although I clearly love children, I
wasn’t ready to give up or postpone my career.”

“I wanted to have a medical abortion due to financial issues
but the only available centre in my area did not recommend this
procedure, although they did offer it. I felt like I did not
have enough information about each procedure and found the
gynaecology centre should have had consultations on which
procedure is better for the woman. So I opted for the surgical

“There were no complications or side effects, my nausea and
pain from pregnancy immediately disappeared. The cost of a
surgical abortion varies, mine cost $410 and I got nothing back
from Medicare even though I am on Centrelink and hold a health
care card. I do not have private health insurance. I paid for
this out of my own savings with no help from family or the
father of the baby. I certainly do not regret my decision to
have an abortion.”

– Charlotte,19

“I had an abortion at around nine weeks when I was 23. At the
time, my boyfriend and I were both heavy intravenous drug users
of methamphetamine and I’d been binge drinking every weekend
before I realised I was pregnant. I was on bail for drug
offences at the time and I knew that I was going to get a
custodial sentence of more than 12 months.

“For us, there was never a question of keeping the baby but it
wasn’t about ‘getting rid’ of it either. There was a lot of
uncertainty around the future of my relationship and health and
career. I didn’t want to sentence a child to being born drug or
alcohol affected and for the story of their birth to start in
prison, I knew it would take time for me to deal with my drug
dependency issues and I thought it was unfair for my
carelessness to impact a child like that.

“I don’t feel guilty. When I am ready to be the best mum I can
and [give] my baby the best start then I will have

– Phillipa, age unknown

“The day before my 22nd birthday I found out I was pregnant. It
felt like the entire world slowed down.

“The father was my ex-boyfriend whom I broke up with after he
raped me when I refused to have sex with him one night. I chose
to not involve him in a decision regarding what I would do as
he lost that right when he chose to disregard my right to say

“I looked into both abortion and adoption. After talking to a
women’s health counsellor I decide to have an abortion. I was
relatively lucky there was a clinic in my city and I had
savings I could use to pay for it. I told no one, went to the
clinic by myself it was only when they said someone had to
drive me home after, as I’d be under, that I told my best
friend and she drove me home. Everyone that worked at the
clinic was professional, supportive and I was even put in touch
with a psychologist that I spoke to before and after my
abortion. It is not something I regret I know that it was the
right thing to do however it is still something only a select
number of people in my life know about and that is not because
I’m ashamed, it’s because it is my body, my choice and my

– T, 24

“When I found out I was pregnant, I was overwhelmed with the
fact I knew I couldn’t go through with it.

“My boyfriend and I decided to go halves as it was quite
expensive. When I was seven weeks I went in for my appointment
to get the procedure done. They were very professional and made
sure the decision was my own and I understood what both
procedures entailed. I choose the surgical procedure as I felt
it was right for me. It was over very quickly, they put you to
sleep and about 15 minutes later I was awake and it was over.
For a couple of days after I bled a bit and there was a bit of
discomfort, enough to keep me home. I have absolutely no regret
on my decision, having the choice to be a parent when or if I’m
ready was such an empowering feeling. Now a year later and the
local clinic has been forced to close due to low funding and it
makes me sick to my stomach that girls will now have to either
travel or accept their fate due to it being costly.”

– Bree, 23

“I found out I was pregnant after taking a pregnancy test at
school with my best friend.”

“When I asked [the GP] about an abortion, he had no clue as to
what measures to take and searched frantically online,
informing me that I would need to travel four hours to Perth to
obtain the pill.”

“I knew I would not be able to make it to Perth considering my
situation – being in Year 12 and without a licence – so I
prepared to break it to my mum.”

“My doctor was extremely helpful and gave me an ultrasound
rather than yet another test. As she had practised as a gyno,
she knew exactly what protocol to take and wrote me a script
for the mifepristone drug, which I was instructed by the
previous GP that it would cost $800, roughly. I was surprised
to learn that it was heavily subsidised [to $30] and was well
within my financial range.”

– Shelby, 17

“I haven’t had my abortion yet. It’s booked in for six days’

“I’m about seven weeks pregnant, which was a complete shock and
so obviously unplanned. I’ve told one of my sisters and a
couple of close friends. The support has been extraordinary but
doesn’t make the process easier. I know I’m not set up
financially or emotionally to go through with the pregnancy… I
know an abortion is the best option but it’s still scary as
hell. The ‘father’ is a guy I’ve been casually seeing for a few
months. I haven’t told him and don’t know if I should. The only
motivation I really have is to potentially obtain some
financial help seeing as the procedure will set me back about
$500, a daunting amount of money to part with considering I
live out of home, completely independent, and that’s a good
chunk of my weekly paycheque.

“I’ve had fears in the past that my endometriosis will result
in infertility. Now I have the fear that by having this
abortion, what if I’m giving up my only chance to ever have a

“I was so reliable in taking my oral contraceptive pill, even
making sure I took it around the same time of day regularly. I
have such a cocktail of emotions rushing through every nook and
cranny of my brain, and the scary thing is not knowing which
ones will remain after the procedure, and for how long.”

– Lucy, 25

“I was married and had a planned pregnancy. We had been trying
for two years and after a miscarriage, I was able to conceive
viably. My happiness lasted all but seven weeks. My husband
admitted to a long term affair and decided to leave me.

“Although I am pro-choice, I never dreamed that I would ever be
able to go through with an abortion… Ultimately, what drove me
to do it was the knowledge that if I carried the child he or
she would have to suffer knowing their father didn’t want them.
I also didn’t want to be tied to my ex in any way or have him
use my child to hurt me further.

“The procedure itself was painless but one that has haunted me
since. I feel guilt and overwhelming sadness, especially when I
see friends going through their own pregnancies. I feel like I
was selfish and a terrible person who chose my life over my
child’s. It’s been a year now and things are slowly starting to
get better. Someday I may work through the guilt, or maybe I
never will, but I feel like like I made the right choice for
myself and my situation.”

– Anonymous, age unknown

“I was 16 years old and had been throwing up a lot and fainted
once. My mum noticed and made me take a test, she was right and
I was pregnant. She told me she would help however she could
and I told her straight away I didn’t want to keep it.”

“The morning of my abortion my mum had to take care of my
brother and sister for school so she dropped me off at the
train station and met me about a block from the clinic as she
didn’t want me walking in alone as there are protesters and
people harassing people going in there sometimes and she was

“I was asked to lay on the bed with my legs in the air and my
box for all to see and they gave me a needle and asked me to
count to 10.

“I ended things with the guy that would have been the dad a few
months later as he was a complete dropkick and I’m glad I don’t
have a child that would almost be 10 now with him as we were
both young, broke and stupid and would have ruined that kids

– Anonymous, 26

I became pregnant on Valentines Day last year while having sex
on my period with a one night stand. After I was a week late
for my next period I took a pregnancy test (actually three) and
all came back positive. I knew immediately that I needed to get
an abortion, it was not a hard decision for me at all.

“As I was five weeks along, I was too early to get a surgical
abortion (you needed to be seven weeks at least) so I opted for
a medical abortion so that I could terminate ASAP.

“Luckily I live in Victoria, which is a state where abortions
are legal so it was very easy for me to get access to a women’s
clinic. Unlucky for me, I have private health insurance as I am
not an Australian citizen so I had to pay about $1000
out-of-pocket for the procedure (clinic visit, medicine, and

“The medical abortion itself was pretty uncomfortable as I had
intense painful cramps for about eight hours or so and very,
very heavy bleeding… The good thing about it is that you can do
it in the privacy of your own home and don’t have to go under

– Heather, 26

“I was 24 and in my final year of university. My then boyfriend
(now husband) and I hadn’t been careful and found out I was

“Everyone was very kind and at no time were they judgemental or
unsupportive. I do not regret the choice we made, even now that
we have two small children. While I don’t think I feel shame,
there is still a stigma. My husband and I have never told
anyone and I don’t know that I ever will.”

– Anonymous 36

“I had a late term surgical abortion after discovering I was
pregnant only two days previously. It was in a very discreet,
modern and lovely clinic in a capital city. The staff were
wonderful. The whole treatment cost $2500 upfront, which I was
unprepared to pay but privileged enough to borrow. It all
happened so quickly that I didn’t really have time to dwell on
the situation – I just did what I had to do. One thing I wish
I’d known was that the termination would trigger lactation,
which was terribly painful.

– Anonymous, age unknown

“I had a surgical abortion at the age of 20 at a private
clinic. I found the experience daunting and lonely. Due to
social stigma, I did not inform many people about the procedure
apart from a few friends. The procedure itself was pain-free
and the staff at the clinic were very professional.

“I felt a lot of guilt and grief without anyone to talk to
about it.

“I would not be able to give the child or myself a good future
and the father was unsupportive… I’m happy I went through with
the procedure and had no regrets but the grief I felt after the
procedure was hard to deal with alone.”

– Anonymous, 23

“I consented to unprotected sex but believed the guy would pull
out. Instead of pulling out, he came inside me… didn’t tell me
but when I asked him if he had finished, he just started
laughing. I was stupid to let this happen, but he was mean to
do what he did.

“I had a medical abortion. I’m lucky enough to live in a
country where I can receive this help and have our Medicare
system help pay for the procedure. The clinic I went to was
amazing! From the girls on reception to the doctors themselves.
All amazing women and I cannot thank them enough. I was never
once made to feel bad about my decision. I was constantly
offered counselling and given a 24hr number to call for any
questions I had.

“The abortion experience itself was amazingly painful. I’ve
never felt pain like that before in my life.

“I took the first tablet at the clinic, and then 24 hours later
at home I took the second dose. The doctors weren’t lying when
they said it would work quick! I had hot flushes, shaking,
chills, vomiting and of course intense pain. I felt like I had
the urge to push.

“After four hours of pain, I fell asleep and woke up with a pad
FULL of blood and tissue.

“I never thought I’d be in this position. But there I was. I
was so annoyed at myself for letting it happen. I still feel
guilty, but I know it was the right choice, deep down.”

– Sam, age unknown

“I was a few weeks off my 25th birthday when one night I was
raped by several people while I was unconscious. I woke up with
a stranger on top of me, I pushed him off and got out of there
as fast as I could.

“I didn’t think I could have possibly even been pregnant
because I hadn’t known what had happened to me, and that was
traumatising enough in the first place.

“I tried to distract myself from reality for a while because I
couldn’t deal with everything that was happening. After a few
more weeks I knew I couldn’t put it off anymore, and I called
my sister for help. I was incredibly lucky to have such a great
sister who didn’t ask me any questions and supported me through
this very difficult time. She respected my decision and even
made the appointment for me, took me there and took me home and
looked after me. I don’t know what I would have done without
her. I’m also very lucky and grateful to live in a state where
abortion is legal. I don’t regret my decision at all.”

– Anonymous, 29

“I was 22 and fell pregnant to the boy I was dating at the
time. I knew straight away I couldn’t keep it, due to
struggling quite badly with depression and self-harm. Once I
told him I was pregnant, he pretty much broke up with me
straight away. He was a selfish, emotionally abusive loser.

“My mum came with me. You sit around in a waiting area with
other women there for the same reason. I was the only one there
with my mum, everyone else had their partners with them. All
the doctors and nurses were really nice and supportive, I
didn’t feel judged at all.

“I was told to expect some bleeding and a few small clots and
not to panic because it was normal. I was still bleeding about
a week later and it was getting heavier and the clots were
getting bigger… it turned out I had retained products. Meaning,
they hadn’t done the termination properly and left some behind
which had then caused an infection. I had to have the procedure
done all over again the next day.

“I don’t regret my decision, there was no way I could’ve cared
for a child and provided a stable, loving environment at that
time in my life.”

– Renee, 30

“I had two abortions at the age of 19. I’m not sure why but
when I first found out I was pregnant my instant thought was to
get an abortion. I think I was petrified and didn’t know what
else to do.”

“The process only took about two to three hours from check in
to check out.”

“It was honestly the hardest thing I ever had to do. I
struggled for about three years to be around mothers with small
children. I think the guilt and grief ate away at me… I
definitely see myself having children in future but I hope it
will be when I’m married to an amazing man.”

– Tay, 23

“I had an abortion when I was 22 and in living with my then

“The day before my abortion we had a huge fight about my
indecision [and] he left me alone in our flat and drove to his
parents to get drunk with his friend. I woke up the next day
alone and I knew there was just no way we could be parents. I
called my friend and she picked me up and drove me to the last
minute abortion appointment I booked at 8:00 a.m. that

“I remember him saying that if I kept the baby he would leave
me. The procedure took about two hours and I withdrew the money
from my savings account at an ATM on the way. When I got to the
clinic I had the option of looking at the ultrasound or looking
away and I chose to look at what I was giving up. At no time
did I feel an attachment to the foetus, or that I was making a

“When I woke up my friend was waiting and I basically got
straight in her car and went for burgers!”

– Melissa, 25

“I found myself pregnant at an age where you shouldn’t think
twice about continuing on with a pregnancy… Because of my age
and relationship status, the doctor provided no advice or
assistance with any alternative than continuing with the

“Being in Australia, it was stressful to organise the procedure
because of the legal complexity between states for the
procedure. For the record, it was emotionally challenging and
not recommended, but so important to have as an option.”

– Renee, 25

View this image ›

Pro-choice supporters rally
outside the Queensland parliament in Brisbane, 2016.

ID: 10391841

“As I’m writing this I’ve just taken the second dose of
medication for my abortion. This causes the uterus to contract
and empty which explains that when I think of the experience
I’m going through I immediately think of the pain. Because
that’s all I can think of at the moment. It hurts. A lot. The
cramps, the bleeding, nausea and vomiting; it’s intense.”

“But, despite the pain, I’m thankful this option was available
and legal for me. It’s allowed me to choose when to bring a
child into the world, on my terms and when I’m ready. I think a
child deserves being supported completely. The amount I paid
for a medical abortion was a surprise though I understand why –
I was taken care of.”

– Bella, 19

“I had an abortion in early 2015. It was the most emotional
experience I have ever gone through. I already had four
children, one of whom has a degenerative genetic condition. At
first, I was elated to see the two pink lines on the pregnancy
test, then the worry set in about the chances of another child
with the condition. My husband and I knew it would break us to
have another child going through that. A couple of weeks went
by, spent in a numb state and plenty of tears while we figured
out what to do. We made an appointment with our GP who
discussed all options (adoption was out, as I knew I wouldn’t
be able to give it up after pregnancy) and was supportive after
he gave us a referral for a medical termination.”

“I had a few minutes alone before being taken to the procedure
room where I sat, talking to my unborn child, apologising for
what I was about to do, apologising that I couldn’t be its
mummy, but I loved it anyway and we would be together again one

“Physically, I felt good after the procedure, but numb. The
nursing staff understood my reason and were supportive.”

– Caroline, 31

“I have always known I’m one of those people who was just born
to be a mum. My decision to surgically terminate my pregnancy
was the most heartbreaking and best choice I have ever made. I
had miscarried a much-wanted pregnancy the year before, and my
marriage was falling apart, with my husband not wanting to try
to fix it. So I had the choice of raising my child in a
dysfunctional, unhealthy and broken relationship, with a father
who would never have loved them as much as they deserve, or to
not make that child suffer for years to come.

“I have never once regretted my choice, not even for a second.
It was painful, it was gut-wrenching, and if I was ever
unfortunately in the same situation again, I would still choose
to put my child’s happiness ahead of my own.”

– Nicole, 28

“I didn’t want to have the procedure but the father of the baby
and my parents basically gave me no other choice but to have it
done. I paid for it myself with my full weekly pay. I was
pretty emotionless before it happened. They gave you counseling
[before the procedure] but I didn’t really want to speak
because I felt so bad and guilty about what was about to
happen. I had a surgical abortion when I was about six weeks

“If it was up to me I would have kept the baby but because I
care about what others think so much I let my family and the
father force me into it. I think about it nearly every day.
Sometimes I hate myself for it and [some days] I don’t, I just
get sad. My friends wanted me to keep it and ever since I don’t
think they have really treated me the same.”

– Molly, 22

View this image ›

Pro-choice protesters attempt
to drown out speakers from Pro Life Australia during a
protest on the steps of Parliament House in Melbourne,
2007. Robert
Cianflone / Getty Images

ID: 10391823

“I had a surgical abortion in 2006 when I was nine weeks
pregnant. I was on the pill and didn’t even realise until I was
almost eight weeks along. It was a pretty straightforward
decision – we just weren’t ready. We were too young, too poor,
we had been together less than a year. That’s not to say it
wasn’t a tough decision, because it was. We felt like we
could[n’t] tell anyone, our parents would have been so
disappointed. The medical staff were amazing, so compassionate.
I didn’t feel judged at all. I know we made the right decision.
Eleven years later we are now married and have gone on to have
two children. No regrets.

– Jacqui, age unknown

“I was 21 and had been dating a guy for about a year before he
up and left for another girl without so much as a text to me. A
few weeks later I found out I was pregnant. I wasn’t working at
the time and not for a moment did I think about keeping it. I
had nothing [to] offer this baby and it was clear the father
was not interested [in] helping me and I couldn’t deny his
happiness for my own.

“The only regret I have is that I didn’t use the support for
aftercare. At the time I was very emotionless and just did it
without fully putting my feelings into place. I struggled for a
long time after, coming to terms with actually being pregnant
and having an abortion. At the time I was a robot going through
the motions. Looking back now I am happy with my decision and
the support from my friends, family and the wonderful people at
the clinic.”

– Emily, 27

“I am a mother to a beautiful little girl who is four. A couple
of years ago I accidentally fell pregnant to my husband during
what we thought was a safe time. When I did the pregnancy test
the joy I should have felt at the thought of becoming a mother
again was overtaken by anxiety and fear… the thought of having
another child brought me to tears.”

“We decided to terminate the pregnancy. We lived in a country
town in NSW so we had to drive to Sydney to a clinic where it
would be performed surgically.

“The morning after, I woke up and felt relieved. I knew I had
done the right thing. I feel a little sad when my daughter asks
for a baby brother or sister but in my heart, I know that I
have only enough love for her.”

– Eliza, 32

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