The Labor Party has announced they will offer free abortion services at public hospitals as part of their National Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy, should they win this year’s federal election.

According to SMH, the announcement was made by Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek, who stressed that Australian women should be able to access reproductive health services no matter where they reside.

“Women have been turned away from public hospitals for termination services and have not been able to access or afford to go to a private clinic,” Plibersek said.

Labor would also be creating a new reproductive health hub in Tasmania, so women don’t have to travel interstate for abortions.

“Choosing to terminate a pregnancy is difficult enough. Forcing a woman to travel long distances or interstate to access surgical services can dramatically increase the emotional and financial burden. We wouldn’t accept someone having to travel that far for a hip replacement or a broken bone. Women deserve better.”

Under the plan, public hospitals would have to provide the abortion services to qualify for federal funding. Labor would also be looking at ways to improve access to some contraceptives, including the pill and long-acting contraceptive options, as well as looking into whether Australia should follow the lead of our neighbours New Zealand, and introduce three-year prescriptions for the contraceptive pill.

Labor will also be assessing the Medicare rebate associated with medical terminations. This, Plibersek said, was “to address access and affordability issues”.  Labor explained that while the abortion drug RU486 can often cost as little as $6.40, scans and medical appointments following or preceding a termination can blow out to $600 as out-of-pocket costs.

Labor would also push for the decriminalisation of abortion in NSW, the only state in Australia where it’s a criminal offence.

Source: SMH
Image: AAP