MSI Australia pushes for ‘national approach’ to access to abortion ahead of Women’s Ministers meeting in Adelaide

Medicare rebates, public hospitals and additional government funding should be on the table to end Australia’s abortion ‘zip code lottery’.

This is the argument of the national family planning organization that is lobbying the Albanian government and states and territories to work together to improve access to abortion services.

MSI Australia is calling for a national approach to abortion care as women ministers from across the country prepare to meet in Adelaide on Friday.

Ministers are expected to discuss access to abortion after saying they want relevant legislation to be streamlined and the procedure made more accessible and accessible.

Access to abortion varies across the country, especially outside major cities where private clinics are few and doctors may face stigma for providing the service.

The issue was revived after the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the right to universal access to abortion, sparking a wave of solidarity protests in Australia.

MSI Australia’s head of policy Bonnie Corbin urged women’s ministers to reaffirm that reproductive rights are part of the “national agenda for gender equality” at a Friday meeting.

“State and territory health departments and health leaders need to sit down at the negotiating table,” she said.

“Our federal government has one of the most progressive abortion policies in our region. We have a national framework for universal access to abortion this decade,” she said.

MSI Australia is Australia’s largest private abortion provider. It also works with government hospitals providing services in some areas.

MSI Australia Managing Director Jamal Hakim said universal access to abortion is “important” and that all levels of government have a role to play.

“Regional leadership and delivery of health services is diverse, health regions are led by state and territory governments, and the national model needs to respond to that,” he said.

“At the federal level, we need reviews of Medicare benefit plan item numbers for both medical and surgical abortion.

“But equally, state and territory governments must support funds to address gaps in consumer access.”

The National Women’s Health Strategy (2020-2030) lists “equitable access to abortion services” as a “key indicator of success”.

It received bipartisan support when it was signed in 2019, but MSI Australia says no action has been taken to implement the policy at any level of government.

Earlier this week, Anthony Albanese ruled out another plan to improve access.

The prime minister said Wednesday he is not considering asking public hospitals for abortions under their Commonwealth funding mechanisms.

It was a key element of Labor’s reproductive health policy in 2019, championed by then opposition women’s representative Tania Plibersek.

Health Secretary Mark Butler said he will work with Assistant Secretary Ged Kearney and their state counterparts to improve standards of care and access.

Originally published as MSI Australia pushes for ‘national approach’ to abortion access ahead of ministers meeting

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