We need to demystify abortion, and its costs.

 Accessing an abortion in Australia is complicated thing, and it shouldn't be. Abortion is a medical procedure. Children by Choice state an estimated 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in abortion. 1 in 4. Abortion is the most common medical procedure for Australian women. For something so commonplace, access to it is incredibly difficult, and varies wildly depending on where you live.

In South Australia. for example, abortion is legal. As long as two doctors have agreed that the pregnancy would be harmful to the women's health or if the child is at risk, and you have the procedure performed in an approved medical facility. In South Australia, in an approved medical facility, surgical abortion is free.

In New South Wales, like Queensland, abortion sits snug in our criminal code, accessible through a legal loophole for women. We have to prove the abortion is to protect our mental or physical health, or that we can't afford to have a baby. It then, essentially, becomes the doctor’s decision as to whether someone else is going to have an abortion.

Until recently, in NSW, we also had to find our way to them, which is difficult if you’re not near an abortion provider. That was until RU486 became available (Labor added RU486 to the pharmaceutical benefits scheme in 2013).

RU486, a medical abortion drug which aims to terminate abortions without surgery, is on the PBS at about $38. It's meant to make abortion more accessible, because you don’t have to find an abortion provider to have a surgical abortion, and some providers can mail you a pack. It’s more accessible, but it’s still complicated, because some people are paying hundreds of dollars for it. This especially affects women living in rural areaswho can pay up to 800 dollars for a first trimester abortion.  The Tabbot Foundation (again, depending where you live) can provide the same medical abortion drugs, antibiotics, analgesics and anti-nausea medicines, nurse on call and follow up services for $250.
People seeking abortion, 1 in 4 pregnancies, might endure inflated costs for simple medical care.


Some of the extra costs are down to a "GP management fee", to be on call in case the drug doesn't work. But this outcome is estimated to only happen in 7% of cases; so what are we paying for? And with all the outdated and onerous regulations attached to abortion in various states, who is regulating this part?

When Sky News questioned Assistant Health Minister Dr David Gillespie about the costs associated to abortion, he seemed lost.
"You got me there, I didn’t realise that was the situation.".

He didn't realise some people were being charged obstructive amounts to access medical care.
The idea seems as though it is foreign to him. But it shouldn't be. Is it so much to ask, for our officials, our health ministers no less, to be well versed in abortion issues - when it affects so many of us? Again, abortion is the most common medical procedure for Australian women; it’s not an obscure medical problem affecting 1 in 500,000. And if people are paying unnecessary extras for any medical procedure, obstructive extras, shouldn't our government know enough to step in and help? Shouldn't we expect our government to help us?

Abortion should not be complicated or mystifying. The access to a medical procedures or drugs should not be obstructed by archaic laws
, logistical nightmares or inflated costs. As Australians, we expect our medical care to be easy to access and fair for all.
As Tanya Plibersek said in her speech to Emily’s ListOration:  “The cost for medical terminations can rise to almost $800 in some parts of the country.  One in four Australians doesn’t have $400 available in case of an emergency.”

We should expect more. In the case of RU486, where some people are paying five hundred or eight hundred dollars for a medical procedure and those costs can't be explained, or may not have been assessed, we should question it. And we should question our government health officials, because they need to be across issues relating to abortion.

They need to demystify abortion. It should not be this complicated.

By: Tee Linden


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