Published: 01 June 2018

WOMEN on low incomes and in regional Tasmania are being disadvantaged because of a lack of abortion services in public hospitals, says Murchison MLC Ruth Forrest.

She will move a motion in the Legislative Council calling on Health MinisterMichael Ferguson to ensure all Tasmanian women have equitable access to termination of pregnancy services in the public hospital system.

Ms Forrest said her motion was not about whether terminations should be available because that had already been decided by parliament in 2013.

“It is about equity of access for all Tasmanian women to a medical procedure that is legal and safe to perform in any of our major hospitals,” she said.

“It is an important part of sexual and reproductive health services and part of a comprehensive public health service.

“A lot of women don’t want to talk about it because there is still some shame attached to it and while we have some services available in public hospitals there is only limited access.”

Ms Forrest said under the current arrangements only women who were at risk of serious health outcomes or with foetal abnormalities were able to access terminations in Tasmania’s public hospitals.

“The current arrangements negatively impact on poor women and women from regional areas of the state” she said.

“This is not equitable, reasonable or defendable.

“Women from regional areas, who lack financial resources and do not have a foetal or maternal anomaly are being discriminated against.

“This flies in the face of the 2013 support of the parliament for such access.” 

Ms Forrest said she had been contacted by one woman who had paid $2750 to go to Melbourne for a termination and even with transport subsidies she was considerably out of pocket.

“Many women facing challenges will consider unsafe measures to end the pregnancy,” she said.

“Some will use home remedies and unsafe terminations, which will have dire consequences.” 

The Tasmanian Government said recently it was in discussions with a provider to set up a low-cost abortion service in Tasmania.

Since the state’s last remaining low-cost private termination services provider pulled out of the state, an estimated 10 to 12 women each month have had to travel interstate to receive the procedure in hospital.

This has been with the support of Tasmanian Government subsidies.

At present, Tasmanian hospitals only provide termination services when there is a risk to a mother or her foetus. There are still two providers in Tasmania who offer the service at a $2500 cost. 

The motion will be debated on June 12. 


Examiner 31 May 2018

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