We’ve Committed to Universal Access to Abortion. Now Let’s Deliver It.

While the issue of universal access to healthcare has been a politically partisan issue in the United States, in Australia, support for universal access generally extends across party political lines.

We have a health system that is well regarded across the world, even though we know that there are areas in which we can and must do better to ensure all Australians enjoy the benefits of universal healthcare access.

One such area is access to abortion care.

During the last federal election, the Australian Labor Party sought to address the issue of universal access to abortion through hospital funding agreements. Had this been realised, abortion care would have been more widely available, accessible and equitable.

Just because the ALP did not win the last Federal election does not mean that the idea of universal access to abortion care is lost. Universal access to abortion care is, in fact, enshrined in the National Women’s Health Strategy 2020–2030.

The Health Minister, Greg Hunt, launched the strategy in January this year. The result of extensive consultation with the community and the health sector, the strategy clearly states under Priority 1 that the government will work towards universal access to sexual and reproductive health services, including termination of pregnancy services.

In other words, we have an Australian Government commitment to equitable and fair access to abortion care.

What the strategy also commits to is measuring its success based on equitable access to abortion services. This is a welcome commitment, given that we don’t currently have a national picture of abortion access or services.

The work that’s gone into the development of the National Women’s Health Strategy has been immense and has been led by some of the best minds in women’s healthcare. It enshrines a commitment to removing barriers to equitable access to timely, appropriate and affordable abortion services.

The question now is how will the Federal Government put this strategy into practice? Most importantly, how will the government work with the States and Territories to remove barriers to access and ensure that Australians finally have universal access to safe, sensitive abortion care?

The strategy clearly articulates that women’s health, particularly sexual and reproductive health and abortion care, is a national priority, so let’s deliver on its commitments to universal access.

Jamal Hakim is Managing Director of national not-for-profit sexual and reproductive health provider, Marie Stopes Australia

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MSI Australia is the leading, accredited, national provider for abortion, contraception and vasectomy.

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MSI Australia

MSI Australia is the leading, accredited, national provider for abortion, contraception and vasectomy.