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Pandemic impacts on nation’s sexual and reproductive health

Sigrid Firth Abortion, Advocacy, Equity and access, Media, Safe access

MEDIA STATEMENT

Marie Stopes Australia is bracing for a surge in later gestation terminations and increased client complexities including financial hardship and domestic violence as the nation slowly moves towards recovery from COVID-19.

The concerns have been highlighted in Marie Stopes Australia’s latest situation report, released today, that details the ongoing impacts of the pandemic on Australians sexual and reproductive health.

“While Australia has prepared for, and addressed the impacts of COVID-19 well, the impact of the pandemic on the nation’s sexual and reproductive health still looms as a major concern for many of us working in this area of healthcare”, Managing Director, Jamal Hakim, said.

Abortion has been declared an essential Category 1 services during the pandemic, however, physical distancing measures and ongoing movement restrictions have meant that during the height of the pandemic, people were wary of attending medical procedures and appointments.

“We expect that as movement restrictions ease, we are likely to see people who seek abortion services presenting at later gestations and with more complex life circumstances.”

The situation report also highlights that while public health measures have been effective at keeping people at home, home may not be the safest place for some Australians.

“We still do not know the full impacts of lockdown measures from the pandemic but looking at what is happening overseas, and the increase in calls to support services, we know that coercion and violence has almost certainly been an issue in some Australian homes”, Senior Policy Officer, Bonney Corbin, said.

The report provides a suite of short, medium and long-term recommendations to address the impacts of the pandemic on the nation’s sexual and reproductive health.

Ms Corbin said: “We have learnt a lot from the pandemics of the past about how they impact on people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. Australia now has an opportunity to not only learn more, but to put measures in place to improve an already neglected area of healthcare.”

The Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Situation Report can be accessed at https://resources.mariestopes.org.au/SRHRinAustralia.pdf

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Marie Stopes Australia is a national not for profit provider of sexual and reproductive health services including permanent and long-acting reversible contraception and abortion care.

Media contact: Jacquie O’Brien, Director Public Affairs and Policy, 0428 396 391