Parliament Lawns will host a community rally demanding state-wide access to elective pregnancy termination services in Tasmania this weekend. The event follows Tasmania’s last public surgical abortion clinic closure in January of this year.
The event aims to harness community sentiment around the topic, expressed through petitions and social media outreach. Many people expressed their views online following the clinic closure. However, organiser Jess Ferguson says the issue remains taboo in political discussion. “It is still available, and there are still practitioners offering surgical terminations but there’s few. There’s very few.”
Elective medical and surgical abortions have been legal and available in Tasmania since 2013, but since the opening of three clinics state-wide, lack of funding and decreased demand have seen all three centres close in a matter of just 5 years.
A non-emergency surgical procedure can be accessed privately, for $2,500 per procedure for those with Medicare. Family Planning Tasmania is aware of two accredited providers operating privately in Tasmania.
“To get to the few practitioners is hard, you currently have to contact several organisations, which then have to refer you,” Jess Ferguson says.
Medical abortions (non-surgical, drug induced miscarriage) with the use of the drug, mifepristone linepharma are still available and can be accessed from three private providers in Tasmania, at a significant out-of-pocket expense. Medical termination is available for up to nine weeks, but is not always the best option for individual women’s health needs.
Such limits to access create barriers to choice for women, especially those who are of low socio-economic status and/or those geographically isolated from providers.
“What I would like to see happen- is to have these procedures offered in public hospitals, because they currently do offer the service if it is life threatening,” so the capacity is there.”
Health Minister Michael Ferguson recently stated on the ABC Drive program that elective procedures are non-life threatening and therefore should not be provided in the public health care system. Speaking to the media, he stated that abortion ‘on demand’ has always been provided in the private health care system and that will continue. In Victoria, the Northern Territory and South Australia, both emergency and elective abortions are available in public hospitals.
The Liberal government has offered to subsidise interstate travel for women undergoing the procedure, but organisers of the event say this is socially, financially and geographically impractical. “Women should be trusted to make the best decisions for themselves.”
Jess Ferguson would like to see numbers at the rally to get a strong message to government. “Government is there to represent what the community want, and this is what we want and need.”
The rally is set to be held at Parliament Lawns on Saturday, April 28th.
To learn more about this event go to:
To learn more about this topic and find resources:
Family Planning Tasmania – http://www.fpt.asn.au/advice/
Women’s Health Tasmania- http://womenshealthtas.org.au/
The Link – http://thelink.org.au/
Information and updates – http://abortion-news.info/tag/dr-paul-hyland/