14 July 2022

ACT abortion access, cost to be investigated following Roe v Wade

| Lottie Twyford
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Pro-abortion protest

Overturning Roe V Wade sent shockwaves around the world and sparked protests as far afield as Canberra’s Garema Place. Photo: Gayatri Malhotra.

The Territory government will look into how accessible and affordable abortion services are in the ACT following the overturning of Roe v Wade and the removal of the constitutional right to an abortion in the United States.

That decision sparked protests around the world, including in Canberra.

The ACT Legislative Assembly committee on health and community wellbeing will also look into the existing legal protections for the procedure.

Chair Johnathan Davis said it is the right time to look into it.

“In response to what our community is seeing unfold overseas, now is the right time to reflect on the accessibility, affordability and legal protections for abortion and reproductive health services for people here in the ACT,” he explained.

In the ACT, there is no legislated gestational limit on abortion, but it is only practically available locally until 16 weeks.

After that time, people must travel to Sydney to access one.

Abortions have locally been decriminalised since 2002 when it became regulated as a health service and it’s an offence to protest within 50 metres of a clinic.

READ ALSO Roe V Wade was overturned: but is safe access to abortion as easy as you think here?

But executive director of Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT (SHFPACT) Tim Bavinton told Region there is still more that can be done in regards to improving abortion accessibility in the Territory, particularly regarding the cost.

If a person waits longer than 16 weeks gestation, for example, they will be required to pay for the more expensive surgical procedure, as well as travel and accommodation costs interstate.

There’s also the stigma that remains associated with abortion which means people may not be able to reach out to their partner or family and friends for support.

“In scenarios where people are dealing with mental health or substance abuse and addiction, for example, many don’t find out they are pregnant until later in the picture and it may take them longer to make the decision on whether to terminate,” he said.

“Federal and state and territory governments must review funding arrangements for abortions through public hospitals so that everyone – regardless of their capacity to pay – can have access.”

Yvette Berry

Minister for Education Yvette Berry said she was distressed about the impact of the overturning of Roe v Wade in the US. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Women Yvette Berry, who described the decision in the US as a major set backwards for women’s rights, said she was aware the most significant barrier to accessing an abortion in the Territory was the cost.

“The ACT Government is committed to ensuring equitable access to abortion services for all ACT residents,” she said.

In the 2020 ACT election, ACT Labor made a pre-election commitment to “significantly reduce the upfront cost of surgical abortion in the ACT, eliminating the cost difference between a medical or surgical abortion”.

Ms Berry said ACT Health is also exploring opportunities to improve affordability and access to abortion services in the ACT to enable women to make decisions about their healthcare based on what is best for them and their body.

That could mean fewer women are forced to travel to Sydney to access an abortion after 16 weeks’ gestation.

The Legislative Assembly inquiry is accepting submissions until 5 pm on Monday, 15 August, and it will report by Tuesday, 18 October. Submissions can be emailed to LACommitteeHCW@parliament.act.gov.au.

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“… not sure how you can remove the stigma …” Perhaps a start may be for sanctimonious commentators like you, gooterz, to drop the censorius attitude.

Roe vs wade aside. Why are we even bothering with what is happening overseas.
Is ACT going to try and allow the right for concealed carry using the 2nd amendment?

Surely most of us can see through the virtue signaling.

On the concept of abortion not sure how you can remove the stigma without making life before birth completely worthless.

In my view, pregnancy termination along with other types of women’s reproductive services should be either completely subsidised on the Medicare schedule and/or free AND on demand; at a time and place of a woman’s choosing.

Governments have an obligation to support private and informed choices of individuals whether its reproductive choice or end of life services.

Nor is it the place of any religious organisation or anti choice movement to interfere in private matters determined by any woman or couple or family. For too long the churches have had way to much influence and interfered in matters such as this…the anti choice movement is also characterised as a violent group of people with their threats of damnation and anti woman vitriol designed to terrorise individuals who may already be already suffering in silence…

For those that don’t agree with me that’s fine. Your opinion is irrelevant to me so save your proselytising, threats and ignorant views for someone else who gives a toss about what you think.

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