Unintended pregnancy in Australia: what more can we do?

Angela J Taft, Melissa K Hobbs, Safeera Y Hussainy, Lisa H Amir, Kay Stewart, Anthony M A Smith, Julia M Shelley and Colin B Chapman
Med J Aust 2011; 195 (4): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2011.tb03270.x
Published online: 15 August 2011

Emergency contraception and medical abortion are options, but education about them is vital

Prevention is better than cure — especially in the field of sexual and reproductive health. Australia’s teenage pregnancy rates (17.3 per 1000 women in 2003)1 and abortion rates (19.7 per 1000 women in 2008)2 are high compared with other Western countries. Such rates are not inevitable, and recent contraceptive strategies were developed to help in reducing them.

  • 1 Mother and Child Health Research, La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Department of Pharmacy Practice, Centre for Medicine Use and Safety, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 3 Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 4 Centre for Health through Action on Social Exclusion, School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 5 Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.


Competing interests:

The authors received a small amount of funding from Bayer-Schering Pharma and Sexual Health and Family Planning Australia to assist the conduct of their study of the ECP, but declare no editorial interference with the study. Safeera Hussainy is a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Expert Review Committee.

  • 1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Births, Australia, 2008. Canberra: ABS, 2009. (accessed May 2011).
  • 2. Grayson N, Hargreaves J, Sullivan EA. Use of routinely collected national data sets for reporting on induced abortion in Australia. Sydney: AIHW National Perinatal Statistics Unit, 2005. (AIHW Cat. No. PER 30. Perinatal Statistics Series No. 17.) (accessed May 2011).
  • 3. Glasier AF, Cameron ST, Fine PM, et al. Ulipristal acetate versus levonorgestrel for emergency contraception: a randomised non-inferiority trial and meta-analysis. Lancet 2010; 375: 555-562.
  • 4. Hobbs MK, Taft AJ, Amir LH, et al. Pharmacy access to the emergency contraceptive pill (ECP): a national survey of a random sample of Australian women. Contraception 2011; 83: 151-158.
  • 5. Ellertson C, Shochet T, Blanchard K, Trussell J. Emergency contraception: a review of the programmatic and social science literature. Contraception 2000; 61: 145-186.
  • 6. Larsson M, Eurenius K, Westerling R, Tyden T. Emergency contraceptive pills over-the-counter: a population-based survey of young Swedish women. Contraception 2004; 69: 309-315.
  • 7. Hussainy SY, Stewart K, Chapman CB, et al. Provision of the emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) without prescription: attitudes and practices of pharmacists in Australia. Contraception 2011; 83: 159-166.
  • 8. Law of abortion: final report. Melbourne: Victorian Law Reform Commission, Mar 2008.
  • 9. de Costa C. Medical abortion for Australian women: it’s time. Med J Aust 2005; 183: 378-380. <MJA full text>
  • 10. Kulier R, Kapp N, Gulmezoglu A, et al. Medical methods for first trimester abortion. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2004; (1): CD002855.
  • 11. Marie Stopes International Australia. Medical abortion. (accessed May 2011).


remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Online responses are no longer available. Please refer to our instructions for authors page for more information.