Equity, access and availability: safe abortion and contraception access
Access to contraception and safe legal abortions is a critical part of sexual and reproductive health. Yet for many Australian women access to these services can be hampered by cost, location and the stigma surrounding abortion.
While we have universal healthcare in Australia, our public health system is focused on chronic disease management, which is understandable given we are an aging population.
Sexual and reproductive health is often not prioritised through the public health system which means many women can struggle to access abortion care and contraception. This is especially true for women in rural and remote communities.
This is why Marie Stopes Australia works on a number of issues to increase access, equity and the availability of abortion and contraception for Australian women.
No woman should be forced to carry a pregnancy to term against her will; and especially not when the barrier is financial. It’s for this reason that we have established our philanthropic funds, to ensure that all women are able to access our services regardless of their circumstances.
It is also why we work closely with the government not just to ensure access to abortion care but also to ensure that this access is safe for attending patients. We work with them to help improve the patchwork legislation across the country, and bring better public access to states where it is currently in the criminal code.
It is our mission to destigmatise abortion and to dispel the many myths and fallacies surrounding it. Abortion is not shameful, it is not a weakness of character and it is not something that women should be denied access to under any circumstances.
Abortion is a health issue and should be treated as such by society and legislation. And until it is, Marie Stopes will continue to rely on the generosity of benefactors and philanthropists to help bridge the gap for women who are unable to access it.
Abortion isn’t just a legitimate medical procedure, but often a necessary one. Many women who have wanted pregnancies will find themselves in a situation where they require an abortion in order to address foetal anomalies. Abortion is also more common than many people realise, with one in three women having an abortion by the age of 45. Ultimately, abortion has no place in the criminal code. However, despite the necessity and ubiquity of the procedure, it remains a crime in three Australian states; Queensland, NSW and South Australia. In these states not only are there no safe access zones, but seeking an abortion requires meeting exacting medical stipulations. For many women in these states, abortion isn’t a choice. This is why Marie Stopes Australia is committed to working with partners to decriminalise abortion in Queensland, NSW and South Australia. To this end we have developed the Queensland Law Reform Submission.