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HomeFrom America to Australia: The impact of Roe v Wade on abortion rights down under

HomeFrom America to Australia: The impact of Roe v Wade on abortion rights down under

From America to Australia: The impact of Roe v Wade on abortion rights down under

24 Jun, 2023 | Advocacy, Equity and access, Media

Today marks the one year anniversary of the overturning of Roe v Wade in the USA.

The shock decision spurred public conversations and rallies in Australia, with a renewed focus on abortion access issues down under.

MSI Australia Head of Policy and Research Bonney Corbin said while there are some striking similarities between the U.S and Australia in terms of access and barriers to abortion care, Australia was now one of the few countries making progress towards universal access to abortion care. 

“In Australia, abortion law operates under a federated model, resulting in confusing and contradictory regulations between states to territories,” she said.

“Inconsistencies within Australian healthcare system leads to a disparity of experiences, with some of those seeking abortion care needing to travel long distances which causes financial and emotional distress.

“Most Australian states and territories have only decriminalised access to abortion in the past 15 years, so many hospital and health regions haven’t yet sorted out how they will provide abortion access.

“The complexities and discrepancies within Australia’s abortion access framework have been thrust into the public conversation, in part due to the increased attention on reproductive rights following the reversal of Roe v Wade in the US.

“The public response has been pronounced. We saw an uprising like we hadn’t seen before.

“The rallies, the noise that people made, prompted more public conversations about abortion.

“This surge of Australian public interest in reproductive rights resulted in a Senate inquiry late last year into universal access to reproductive healthcare, which offered a bipartisan examination of Australia’s abortion laws and access.”

Ms Corbin said it is estimated that between one in three and one in four women or pregnant people in Australia have had an abortion in their lifetime.

“With the increased discourse around this issue, many in the community, government, and workplaces have found themselves under pressure to look at ways to improve reproductive health and wellbeing,” she said. 

” Women and pregnant people experiencing financial distress rely upon philanthropic funds, like the Australian Choice Fund to cover their healthcare costs of up to $8,000.

“Philanthropic funds for abortion access are running dry, we are constantly scrambling for funds to support women and pregnant people who can’t afford their choice of abortion care.

“The recent Senate inquiry consequently addressed these barriers, resulting in 36 recommendations for improvements to abortion care within the health system. 

“These recommendations range from financial reforms to clinical training and education, even extending to relationships and sexuality education in schools.

This week, Western Australia (WA) has tabled a bill on abortion law reform, aiming to remove lingering aspects of abortion still existing within the criminal code. 

“WA was one of the first places in Australia to decriminalise abortion. This bill will remove some of the complexities left over from that process in 1998,” Ms Corbin said. 

“People in Australia travel between Perth and Brisbane, Darwin and Adelaide to access abortion care on a weekly basis, a longer distance than some people in Texas.”

“The future is promising, following the  ACT announcing funding for free abortion care, which began in May.

“In the past year alone we’ve seen abortion law reform in South Australia and the Northern Territory, so it’s clear that unlike the US, we are still moving forwards.

“I’m happy to say Australia’s access to reproductive rights is safe within the global context, thanks to ongoing support by politicians, community leaders, industry leaders and health consumers.

“Many of us have family and loved ones in the US. This is a time to demonstrate solidarity and support with people who have had abortions, within our own families and communities.”

The Australian Abortion Access Scorecard can be viewed here. View a summary of State and Territory abortion laws here

Women and pregnant people can book a teleabortion here.  

Donate to the Choice Fund to support people experiencing financial hardship or other barriers to abortion and contraception care here.

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For further information contact Anna Jabour on 0428 396 391.

MSI Australia is the only national not-for-profit provider of sexual and reproductive health services including permanent and long-acting reversible contraception and abortion care. For more information on our clinic network visit msiaustralia.org.au