FEMINISM: Team from The Lismore Women's Health Centre who took part in intersectional panel discussion on Feminists and Feminism at Lismore City Hall as part of the 2018 Lismore Women's Festival.
FEMINISM: Team from The Lismore Women's Health Centre who took part in intersectional panel discussion on Feminists and Feminism at Lismore City Hall as part of the 2018 Lismore Women's Festival. Sophie Moeller

Abortion made legal, safe, affordable

LISMORE Women's Health and Resource Centre assists four to five women a month with inquiries associated with obtaining an abortion and welcomes any government policy aimed at improving access to legal, safe and affordable reproductive services.

Centre manager Mary Willis has made the comment in light of the Labor government's announcement that, if elected at the next election, it will give women greater access to cheaper contraception and publicly funded abortions.

"At the moment women have to bear the full cost of surgical abortions and need to be referred to a clinic in Tweed Heads,” MsWillis said.

"Many of the women who come to the clinic for advice have been turned away from public hospitals, are not able to afford the procedure at private clinics and have to travel kilometres for services.

"Choosing to terminate a pregnancy is a very difficult decision and forcing them to travel distances increases the financial and emotional burden on them,” she said.

NSW is the only state in which abortion is illegal, representing a third of all Australian women.

If it wins the upcoming election, Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek said it would make abortion services more widely provided in public hospitals and work with state governments to decriminalise abortion across the country.

Labor would also review the Medicare rebate associated with doctors providing medical terminations using the RU486 pill.

Only about 1500 of Australia's 35,000 GPs are registered to prescribe the drug and it costs women on average $600 for the appointments and tests needed, Labor says.

And it would look at letting women get three-year prescriptions for the contraceptive pill instead of having to see their doctor every eight to 12 months, and make sure cost isn't behind the slow uptake of long-acting removable contraceptives such as Implanon or interuterine devices.

If the government were to improve access to contraception and medical terminations through medicare rebates "this would ensure there were no cost barriers” to effective reproductive services,” MsWillis said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was disappointed Labor had released this policy "on the eve of an election in a very politically charged context”.

Abortion provision was a matter for the states and he believed the Commonwealth should keep away.

Christian advocacy group FamilyVoice Australia has warned the ALP to expect a "strong backlash” from the States, if the party wins government nationally and forces public hospitals to perform abortions.

FamilyVoice National Secretary David d'Lima said: "The States will struggle to find quality medical personnel who are prepared to provide surgical abortion, owing to its inherent brutality.”

  • Lismore Women's Health & Resource Centre is at 60 Uralba Street, Lismore and can be contacted on ph: 0266219800