Canberrans to have access to free abortions under new ACT government commitment – Michmutters

Canberrans to have access to free abortions under new ACT government commitment

From mid-2023, Canberra residents will have access to free medical and surgical abortions up to 16 weeks’ gestation.

The ACT government said the decision to remove out-of-pocket costs for abortion services ensured that Canberrans who became pregnant could “make decisions about their healthcare based on what [was] best for them and their bodies.

“This means that individuals will be supported to make a choice about having an abortion without being influenced by financial barriers,” ACT Minister for Women Yvette Berry said.

“It also means that having an abortion can occur in a time-sensitive manner without being delayed due to an inability to pay.”

These services will be accessible to people without a Medicare card and all those who use abortion services will also be eligible to receive free, long-lasting, reversible contraceptives at the time of abortion, which the government said had been shown to reduce demand for abortions in the future.

The initiative to remove out-of-pocket costs will cost the government $4.6 million over four years and aims to improve access to affordable, accessible health services as part of the ACT Women’s Plan 2016-26.

Ms Berry said it was the latest in a string of actions to improve access to safe, accessible abortion services after the procedure was decriminalized in the ACT in 2002.

One more-recent change included banning protesters outside abortion clinics in 2016.

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said she was proud of the latest commitment from the government.

“With one in three women estimated to experience an unexpected pregnancy in their lifetime, it is essential that these services are safe, affordable and accessible, regardless of how much money you have,” she said.

Free services to be available by mid-2023

Women’s Health Matters chief executive Lauren Anthes welcomed the funding initiative to provide access to free surgical abortions within the ACT’s existing gestational limits.

“Timely access is vital as services become more expensive and harder to access over time,” she said.

“This funding will help people access surgical abortion as soon as possible.”

The ACT government said it would work with service providers on the specific arrangements to cover the out-of-pocket costs for accessing abortion services in the territory.

It said this consultation work was expected to be completed during the first half of 2023.


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