Access To Abortion Just Became Even Tougher For Women In Queensland


Women terminating a pregnancy face significant financial,
legal, and geographical barriers in Queensland, where
abortion is still in the criminal code and only lawful to
“prevent serious danger to the woman’s physical or mental
health”.

Women terminating a pregnancy face significant financial, legal, and geographical barriers in Queensland, where abortion is still in the criminal code and only lawful to “prevent serious danger to the woman’s physical or mental health”.

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Lisa Martin / AAPIMAGE

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Queensland women have been
turned away from hospitals,
judged by their GPs, flown interstate to
procure an abortion, and
experienced harassment outside clinics as there is no law
stopping protesters from gathering.

Now women will face extra obstacles as Australia’s largest
abortion provider, Marie Stopes International, prepares to stop
surgical terminations at its Townsville and Rockhampton
clinics.

It’s estimated 800 women travel to these clinics for the
procedure every year.

The chief executive of the not-for-profit social enterprise,
Alexis Apostolellis, said the clinics, which serviced women in
rural and remote Queensland, had suffered “significant”
financial losses.

“We cannot ask our other centres around Australia to continue
absorbing unsustainable losses,” Apostolellis told BuzzFeed
News, “as we also have a responsibility to provide affordable
services to women elsewhere and the more service we provide at
a loss, sadly, the more expensive other women will find their
options.

“We are trying to provide women with reproductive choice in an
area of public health not well supported or funded by the
public system.”

One of the costs of running the regional clinics was flying
in a doctor from Brisbane once a week to perform
terminations, he said.

One of the costs of running the regional clinics was flying in a doctor from Brisbane once a week to perform terminations, he said.

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Marie Stopes Rockhampton/Google Maps

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“For many [women] this would have been their closest option,
and the next closest facilities for surgical termination are
Brisbane and Cairns.

“Finding doctors willing to provide surgical terminations is,
in general, a complex task, as it’s not something covered in
traditional rotations and few doctors choose to specialise.”

Queensland Health estimates that only 1% of abortions are
performed in public hospitals, but some14,000 terminations take
place in the state every year.

Cairns MP Rob Pyne’s bill to decriminalise abortion was

rejected by a parliamentary inquiry but he has introduced a
second, amended bill that he believes answers all the inquiry’s
concerns.

It seeks to amend the state’s Health Act to introduce
gestational limits and exemptions for conscientious
objection, as well as exclusion zones around clinics to
prevent harassment of staff and patients.

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Instagram: @chloelouisemills

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Apostolellis said it was “no surprise” that state governments
were reluctant to be involved in service provision in
Queensland and New South Wales, where the legal status of
abortion was “very unclear”.

“If the Queensland government was open to partnering with
private providers in a shared service model,” he said,
“maintaining an acceptable level of access to surgical
procedures in regional centres would be possible, but that is
highly improbable under current laws.

“Maintaining and staffing surgical facilities is extremely
expensive and when you add to this the hesitation some health
professionals have in providing abortion, especially in
regional and rural areas, our challenges multiply.”



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