Tasmanian women will no longer have to travel interstate or pay huge out-of-pocket fees to access surgical abortions, with a Shorten Labor Government to invest $1 million to ensure Tasmania’s public health system provides the reproductive health services women are entitled to.
Abortion is legal in Tasmania – as it should be around Australia. But the closure of the state’s main private clinic has left women with few places to turn when a surgical termination is required, with the remaining private providers charging around $2,500 for the procedure – unaffordable for most women.
Medical termination (RU486) is not always suitable or preferred, and women shouldn’t be forced to travel interstate or pay thousands of dollars to access a health procedure they need.
That’s why Labor will provide $1 million to Tasmania to build a Reproductive Health Hub. The Hub will provide surgical terminations as part of the public hospital system, and federal and state Labor will contribute to its ongoing costs under the usual Commonwealth-state arrangements.
The Reproductive Health Hub will give Tasmanian women the option to visit a standalone public clinic if they wish – building on Rebecca White’s commitment to make terminations available in Tasmania’s public hospitals.
Labor’s commitment to providing reproductive health services in Tasmania’s public system is expected to benefit up to 250 women a year.
In stark contrast, Malcolm Turnbull has refused to intervene in the current crisis, claiming Will Hodgman is “dealing with it”. But Hodgman has ruled out providing terminations in public hospitals – proving the Liberals are driven by conservative ideology, not the health care needs of Tasmanians.
Turnbull and Hodgman’s failure to lead is forcing women who don’t have thousands of dollars for private procedures to fly interstate to access this medical procedure. On top of this disgrace, the state’s Patient Travel Assistance Scheme does not cover the full costs of flights and accommodation - leaving women with significant out-of-pocket expenses.
Only Labor will provide the leadership required to make sure Tasmanians can access essential health services when and where they need them. This announcement follows Labor’s commitment of $30 million to provide almost 3,000 extra elective surgeries – equivalent to half the current waiting list.
Tasmanians simply shouldn’t be forced to fly interstate or pay thousands of dollars for essential health care – either elective surgeries or reproductive health services.