Professor Caroline de Costa

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Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

BA (USyd), MBBS (London University)

FRCOG (Fellow of the Royal College of Gynaecology)

FRANZCOG (Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand College

of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists)

FRCS (Glasgow), MPH (USyd), PhD


Cairns Clinical School, Cairns Hospital, A Block, Level 2


(07) 4226 6545


(07) 4226 6831



Caroline de Costa is Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the College of Medicine at James Cook University, Cairns Campus in North Queensland, Australia. Caroline has 42 years’ experience in the practice of obstetrics and 40 years in the area of obstetrics research, in particular obstetric epidemiology. She practised as a specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist for 35 years. Caroline was born and educated in Sydney and later studied medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, in Dublin, graduating MB BS (London University) and LRCP&SI in 1973. After completing residency in Port Moresby General Hospital, Papua-New Guinea, she returned to Ireland and undertook specialist training there and in the United Kingdom. In 1980 Caroline returned to Port Moresby for a further 18 months as Senior Registrar before moving back to Sydney where she spent 17 years in private practice. In 1999 she moved to Cairns and took up her present appointment in 2004.


In her university role Caroline teaches the medical students of JCU in their fifth and sixth years as well as supervising honours and PhD research students.

Research/General Interests

In her clinical practice Caroline became deeply involved in improving outcomes for indigenous women in the area of obstetrics and gynaecology. She conducted research into possible interventions to reduce the incidence of foetal alcohol syndrome amongst the children of indigenous women in Far North Queensland. She has conducted several studies into the vitamin D levels and requirements of pregnant women in Far North Queensland in order to determine whether these differ from those of women in more temperate zones. She a has a major interest in caesarean section, including the history and social implications of this common operation as well as techniques and risks of the surgery.

Much of Caroline’s research over the past ten years has been in the area of abortion service provision and abortion law reform. She has published extensively with multiple co-authors both nationally and internationally on these topics, and has been active and successful in public movements to reform abortion law. Caroline’s interests also include:

  • Obstetric Epidemiology

  • Gynaecological Cancer Screening

  • Contraceptive service provision particularly in relation to abortion

  • The learning requirements of medical students in regard to obstetrics, gynaecology and women’s health

Professor de Costa is a regular reviewer for:

  • Medical Journal of Australia


  • Australian Prescriber

  • Canadian Medical Journal

  • Indian Medical Journal

  • The Lancet

Recent Publications

Robson S, Campbell B, Pell G et al. Concordance of maternal and paternal decision-making and its effect on choice for vaginal birth after caesarean section. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2015;55:257-61.

Jayaratnam S, de Costa C Re: Paxton JL, Presneill J, Aitken L. Characteristics of obstetric patients referred to intensive care in an Australian tertiary hospital. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2014; 54: 445-449. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2015;55:195-6.

de Costa C, Douglas H, Hamblin J, Ramsay P, Shircore M Abortion law across Australia--A review of nine jurisdictions. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2015;55:105-11.

Black KI, Douglas H, de Costa C Women's access to abortion after 20 weeks' gestation for fetal chromosomal abnormalities: Views and experiences of doctors in New South Wales and Queensland. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2015;55:144-8.

Belton S, de Costa CM, Whittaker A Termination of pregnancy: a long way to go in the Northern Territory. Med J Aust 2015;202:130-1.

Leung J, Pirovich R, Woods C, de Costa C Knowledge of contraceptive methods and services among tertiary students in far North Queensland. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2014;54:386-9.

de Costa CM Antenatal care for asylum seeker women: is "good enough" good enough? Med J Aust 2014;201:299-300.

Cheng HC, de Costa C, McLean A, Woods C Vitamin D concentrations in pregnant women with diabetes attending for antenatal care in Far North Queensland. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2014;54:275-8.

de Costa C, Robson S, Lim B. Clinical Cases in Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Women’s Health, second edition. McGraw-Hill, Sydney, 2013.

Porrett L, Barkla S, Knights J, de Costa C, Harmen S An exploration of the perceptions of male partners involved in the birthing experience at a regional Australian hospital. J Midwifery Womens Health 2013;58:92-7.

Douglas H, Black K, de Costa C Manufacturing mental illness (and lawful abortion): doctors' attitudes to abortion law and practice in new South Wales and Queensland. J Law Med 2013;20:560-76.

de Costa CM, Rane A Should Australian medical students deliver babies? Med J Aust 2013;198:307.

de Costa CM, Permezel M, Farrell LM, Coffey AE, Rane A Integrating parental leave into specialist training: experience of trainees and recently graduated RANZCOG Fellows. Med J Aust 2013;199:359-62.

de Costa C, Douglas H, Black K Making it legal: abortion providers' knowledge and use of abortion law in New South Wales and Queensland. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2013;53:184-9.

de Costa C Dr Robert Proust: a gynaecologist's contribution to world literature. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 2013;170:47-9.

Phillips T, Eltherington J, de Costa C, Woods C Knowledge of abortion law and provision of abortion services amongst tertiary students in Far North Queensland. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2012;52:299-301.

de Costa CM, Carrette M Early medical abortion--available and safe. Med J Aust 2012;197:257-8.

de Costa C Arthur Wilson Oration 2012: 'Hi Lucille, I'm Doctor Gold' - the changing roles of women in obstetrics and gynaecology. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2012;52:508-12.

Bendall A, de Costa C, Woods C, Howat P Vitamin D levels in pregnant women booking for antenatal care in Far North Queensland. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2012;52:391-4.

Asa I, de Costa C, Mola G A prospective survey of cases of complications of induced abortion presenting to Goroka Hospital, Papua New Guinea, 2011. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2012;52:491-3.

Jayaratnam S, De Costa C, Howat P Developing an assessment tool for maternal morbidity 'near-miss'- a prospective study in a large Australian regional hospital. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2011;51:421-5.

de Costa CM Use of mifepristone for medical abortion in Australia, 2006-2009. Med J Aust 2011;194:206-7.

de Costa CM Out of the shadows--changes in women's reproductive health. Med J Aust 2011;195:620.

de Costa C, Miller F American resurrection and the 1788 New York doctors' riot. Lancet 2011;377:292-3.

Sanga K, de Costa C, Mola G A review of maternal deaths at Goroka General Hospital, Papua New Guinea 2005-2008. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2010;50:21-4.

Downing S, McNamee H, Penney D, Leamy J, de Costa C, Russell DB Three years on: a review of medical terminations of pregnancy performed in a sexual health service. Sex Health 2010;7:212-5.

de Costa CM, Russell DB, Carrette M Abortion in Australia: still to emerge from the 19th century. Lancet 2010;375:804-5.

de Costa CM, Russell DB, Carrette M Views and practices of induced abortion among Australian Fellows and specialist trainees of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Med J Aust 2010;193:13-6.

de Costa CM We "never" train women in Sydney. Med J Aust 2010;193:674-8.

Mohoric-Stare D, C DEC Knowledge of emergency contraception amongst tertiary students in far North Queensland. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2009;49:307-11.

de Costa CM, Wenitong M Could the Baby Bonus be a bonus for babies? Med J Aust 2009;190:242-3.

de Costa CM The King versus Aleck Bourne. Med J Aust 2009;191:230-1.

de Costa C, Miller F Sarah Bernhardt's missing leg. Lancet 2009;374:284-5.

Arnold JL, de Costa CM, Howat PW Timing of transfer for pregnant women from Queensland Cape York communities to Cairns for birthing. Med J Aust 2009;190:594-6.

de Costa C, Howat P Admitting term infants to neonatal intensive care units in Australia. Birth 2008;35:259; author reply 59-60.

Coyne KL, de Costa CM, Heazlewood RJ, Newman HC Pregnancy characteristics of women giving birth to children with fetal alcohol syndrome in Far North Queensland. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2008;48:240-7.

Rane A, de Costa C Why would anyone be an academic? Med J Aust 2007;187:374-5.

de Costa CM, Russell DB, de Costa NR, Carrette M, McNamee HM Early medical abortion in Cairns, Queensland: July 2006 - April 2007. Med J Aust 2007;187:171-3.

de Costa CM, Russell DB, de Costa NR, Carrette M, McNamee HM Introducing early medical abortion in Australia: there is a need to update abortion laws. Sex Health 2007;4:223-6.

de Costa CM, Calcutt C Antenatal care implications of population-based trends in Down syndrome birth rates. Med J Aust 2007;186:663.

de Costa CM Snow--at Christmas. Med J Aust 2007;187:690-2.

de Costa C, Miller F Sarah Bernhardt's 'Doctor God': Jean-Samuel Pozzi (1846-1918). Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2007;47:352-6.

Rimmer C, de Costa C A retrospective review of self-reported alcohol intake among women attending for antenatal care in Far North Queensland. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2006;46:229-33.

de Costa CM Early medical abortion in Australia: more common than statistics suggest? Med J Aust 2006;185:341.

Breeze C, de Costa CM, Jagusch M Do women in rural and remote areas need different guidelines for management of low-grade abnormalities found on cervical screening? Med J Aust 2006;184:307-8.

de Costa CM Medical abortion for Australian women: it's time. Med J Aust 2005;183:378-80.

de Costa C Vaginal birth after classical Caesarean section. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2005;45:182-6.

de Costa CM, Robson S Throwing out the baby with the spa water? Med J Aust 2004;181:438-40.

de Costa CM Is grand multiparity an independent predictor of pregnancy risk? A retrospective observational study. Med J Aust 2004;180:196-7; author reply 97.

de Costa CM James Marion Sims: some speculations and a new position. Med J Aust 2003;178:660-3.

de Costa CM Consanguineous marriage and its relevance to obstetric practice. Obstet Gynecol Surv 2002;57:530-6.

de Costa CM "The contagiousness of childbed fever": a short history of puerperal sepsis and its treatment. Med J Aust 2002;177:668-71.

de Costa CM Saving Grace: a Christmas story. Med J Aust 2002;177:673-4.

de Costa C St Anthony's fire and living ligatures: a short history of ergometrine. Lancet 2002;359:1768-70.


Caroline de Costa is the author of many health books and works of fiction – details of these may be found on this site: http://carolined e