Residents of the Australian Capital Territory will soon be able to access free medical and surgical abortions up to 16 weeks’ gestation, as the territory government moves to remove out of pocket costs.
The free service will be available for residents with and without Medicare cards and is due to begin next year.
Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Women Yvette Berry said the ACT government is investing more than $4.6 million over four years to remove abortion costs.
“Improving the affordability of abortions and addressing any potential inequity in accessing abortion services has long been a goal of the ACT Government,” Berry said.
“By removing the cost barriers for abortions, we are improving access to affordable and accessible health services across the ACT, in line with the ACT Women’s Plan 2016-26.
“This means that individuals will be supported to make a choice about having an abortion without being influenced by financial barriers. It also means that having an abortion can occur in a time sensitive manner without being delayed due to an inability to pay.
ACT Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said one of the most significant barriers to accessing safe abortion services in the ACT has been the out-of-pocket costs.
“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.
“This commitment upholds the rights of people to access affordable health care when and where they need it.”
Women’s Health Matters CEO Lauren Anthes welcomed the funding for free abortions from the territory government.
“We welcome this funding initiative to support anyone to access free surgical abortion within the existing gestational limits in the ACT,” Anthes said.
“Timely access is vital as services become more expensive and harder to access over time. This funding will help people access surgical abortion as soon as possible.”