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A new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) uses data combined from hospital and non-hospital sources to provide a picture of induced abortion in Australia, as well as providing a basis for regular reporting in the future.
The Institute's 2003 report, Reproductive Health Indicators in Australia 2002, included an indicator on induced abortions in Australia; however, the indicator was incomplete because data on induced abortion were not available on a routine basis Australia-wide.
Dr Elizabeth Sullivan, Director of the National Perinatal Statistics Unit, a collaborating unit of the AIHW based at the University of New South Wales, said the lack of data on induced abortion in Australia represented a gap in health statistics.
'This report, Use of Routinely Collected National Data Sets for Reporting on Induced Abortion in Australia, helps fill that gap. It does not include any analysis of the legal, social or moral issues often raised in discussion of abortion,' she added.
The report uses data from the AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database combined with Medicare data to estimate the number of induced abortions in Australia in 2003.
Overall, the estimated number of induced abortions in Australia in 2003 was 84,218.
For women aged 15-44 years, there were an estimated 19.7 induced abortions per 1,000 women.
The number of induced abortions per 1,000 women was highest for the 20-24 year age group at 32.7 per 1,000 and lowest for the 40-44 year age group at 6.7 per 1,000.
Of the estimated 84,218 induced abortions in Australia in 2003, 50,314 (59.7%) were reported to the AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.
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