Time to make pregnancy terminations more accessible

A doctor and a patient. We can

*Speech delivered in the Senate on Wednesday 8th March 2023.

You may not know this, but five years ago Tasmanian women needed to travel to Melbourne to access a surgical abortion. 

The last private surgical clinic in the state had shut down, and women had nowhere else to go.

Women were generally spending more than $1,500 to travel to another state to get access to the health care they needed, and some had to pay more. 

Access to safe termination services was bad.

In practice, it was really available only to the people who could afford it. Now women in Tasmania can access surgical abortion through the public hospital system, and I think that's a really great thing. 

We've come a long way in the last five years, but access to a surgical termination is just one obstacle that's been removed for women who want an abortion in Tasmania. There's still a whole field of hurdles to go.

I've been speaking to some Tassie women's health organisations and listening to the evidence presented to the Senate inquiry into universal access to reproductive health care.

I've heard that in Tassie it's cheaper and easier to access surgical termination than to access chemical termination. You need a spare $350 or so to get a chemical termination, and you can get a rebate on that.

In the end, you're out of pocket by about $150. But what if you don't have a spare $150 just lying around, let alone the $350 you need to pay up-front before the rebate? 

Well, you go to the hospital, because that's free. It's free for you, but it costs the taxpayer around $3,000. You get a bed in a hospital, but that's a bed that someone else can't get access to.

Our system shouldn't be pushing people to access surgical terminations if there are less-invasive, quicker and cheaper ways of doing things. 

We need better, cheaper access to chemical abortions. We need clinics in place that are serviced by public transport. They all need to be open at least five days a week. 

I'd like to hear from Tassie women and families about their experiences with access to termination services. 

I want to know what you need and what we can do to help you.