The Legislative Assembly Health and Wellbeing Committee released their report from the Inquiry into abortion and reproductive choice in the ACT.
The report looked at the accessibility, affordability, information and legal protections for women and people with uteruses seeking abortion.
Lauren Anthes, CEO of Women’s Health Matters, says the report has helped identify barriers other than cost and is a step in the right direction.
“The ACT Government committed last year to making abortion free for all Canberrans. This will address one of the major barriers to abortion.
This report also shows that there are a range of other barriers which prevent people from accessing abortion, including stigma, the availability of appointments and information”, said Ms Anthes.
For this reason, WHM is pleased to see the Committee has recommended more investment in communications to raise awareness about abortion in the community and among services, and the different medical pathways and providers that are available.
Making 18 recommendations in total, including increasing availability of training for doctors to provide long-acting reversible contraception, to investigating the availability of ultrasound, the report provides a comprehensive analysis of the state of abortion and reproductive choice in the ACT.
“The report means that the ACT Government has a clear mandate for improving access to abortion for women and people with uteruses and has worked out the steps that are needed to get there.
It lays out and recommends a path for improving reproductive choices, which is great news for the rights of women and people with uteruses”, said Ms Anthes.
Around 20 organisations, health providers and individuals provided evidence on the need to improve abortion access through detailed submissions, with some providing evidence at a hearing in October last year.
Critically, the committee has recommended the development of a Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy for the ACT. Across community organisations and health providers there’s agreement on the need for an overarching strategy to bring together work on sexual and reproductive health over the life course.
“It’s time for the ACT to look at this work in a coordinated way, that progresses sexual and reproductive health rights and choice for all Canberrans.
We look forward to seeing the ACT Government take these recommendations on board.”
WHM would like to acknowledge and thank the nurses, doctors and advocates who have worked and continue to work to make abortion available to Canberrans, some of whom contributed to this inquiry, as well as all the women and people with uteruses who have shared their stories.