Sarah is pregnant. She didn’t expect this. She was on the pill, but she must have forgotten a day. She doesn’t want to tell her partner. They aren’t serious and she knows from the way he avoids her 3 year old that he’s not exactly keen to be a dad. She has the conversation with him anyway. He blames her and says she’s on her own.
Sarah considers keeping the child, but as a single mother who is underemployed, it’s not really an option. She lives in a small town in rural Victoria; her GP is also a family friend. If she asks him for an abortion it will get back to her parents, and he would probably refuse her.
She’s lucky that she has some savings put aside and has the option to access abortion. It will leave her with almost nothing, but she doesn’t have a choice.
Sarah calls Marie Stopes and books in for a termination. There’s nowhere locally she can go, and the public hospital in her region doesn’t provide abortions so she’ll need to make the 5 hour drive to the nearest clinic. She has to take leave without pay from work, since she’s only casual and doesn’t have paid leave. She has to pay for a babysitter. She’ll need to pay for the petrol to get there and back. She has to find a companion she can trust to travel with her to drive her home after the surgery. She has to pay for overnight accommodation for herself and her companion. Her partner won’t contribute to the expenses.
One of the lucky ones
This experience is not unique to Sarah. She’s one of the lucky ones; she had enough money saved up to access the services she needed. Many women don’t. Women who live or work in remote locations, such as cattle stations, oil rigs and mines are often unable to leave in order to access abortion. Indigenous women in particular are impacted by restrictions to abortion access.
Despite the fact that women do not get pregnant by themselves, the financial burden disproportionately rests on their shoulders. Whether it’s contraception or termination, women are predominantly the ones paying. According to results from a study by the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, “Abortion costs are substantial, increase at later gestations, and are a financial strain for many women…”
Women also face similar barriers in obtaining access to LARC (long acting reversible contraceptives), which are known to have much higher rates of efficacy than more available methods, such as condoms and the contraceptive pill. When women are unable to access the most effective methods of pregnancy prevention, and then are unable to access abortion, they’re being condemned to carry to term children that they do not want. No woman should experience that.
Marie Stopes launches women’s charity for abortion and contraception
As a response to this situation, Marie Stopes Australia has recently sought and been granted tax deductible gift status and has established a philanthropic fund. This fund is dedicated to helping women in financial hardship access abortion and contraception. We are looking for philanthropists to help women like Sarah be supported in their reproductive choices; because reproductive rights are human rights.