The Royal Hobart Hospital.
The Royal Hobart Hospital.

Call for state funding of abortions

THE Senate has called on the Federal Government to ensure safe, surgical abortions are available in public hospitals across Australia in response to the closure of Tasmania's last private abortion clinic.

The motion from Greens Senator Janet Rice, co-sponsored by Tasmanian Labor Senators Carol Brown and Anne Urquhart, passed the Senate yesterday.

It called on the Federal Government to show leadership and work with all states and territories to remove all barriers to Australians accessing abortion services, and to provide funding for services where state governments fail to.

The motion specifically referenced the closure of Tasmania's last surgical abortion provider at the end of last year.

Senator Rice said women should have access to reproductive health services in the public health system, no matter which state they live in or whether they live in a city or regional area.


"I now urge the Prime Minister to exercise leadership and ensure that people in Tasmania and across the country can access safe abortions in our public hospitals, no matter where they live," she said.

"It's just unacceptable that a woman in Tasmania has to travel to Melbourne or a woman in Cairns has to travel to Brisbane, at great expense and personal cost, for the health services they require."

Premier Will Hodgman has ruled out funding abortions through the public system, and in January Health Minister Michael Ferguson announced the State Government's Patient Travel Assistance Scheme could be used by women referred by their GP to fly to Melbourne for surgical abortions.

Opposition Leader Rebecca White has said her party would make abortions available through Tasmania's public health system.

The ALP has flagged two possible models for making terminations available after the state's only private clinic closed at the end of last year.

Greens Leader Cassy O'Connor has said the procedure needs to be routinely funded in the public system.



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