The cost of, and access to, reproductive healthcare varies drastically from state-to-state across Australia.
In some states abortion is free and accessible in hospitals; in others, women need to stump up hundreds of dollars at short notice to pay for a termination at a private clinic.
In Queensland and New South Wales abortion is still written into 100-year-old criminal law while in Victoria and Tasmania abortion is not only legal but women are able to access clinics without fear of harassment and intimidation by protesters thanks to the enactment of "safe access zones".
There have been a few big changes since we last updated you on the state-of-play around the nation.
A law that decriminalises abortion and legalises the medical termination of pregnancy was passed through the Northern Territory parliament earlier this year.
In the debate before the vote, the government and opposition were in agreement that the bill would bring the NT up-to-date with other Australian jurisdictions. The bill passed 20–4.
Medical abortion drugs such as RU486 are now legal for up to nine weeks of gestation; abortions are able to be performed outside of hospitals in private clinics; and doctors who conscientiously object to abortion will have to refer women seeking the procedure to another doctor.
The shift in the law will make abortions accessible in hospitals, although there are only three hospitals that provide surgical abortions, in Darwin and Alice Springs, and they are 1500km apart. Nonetheless, the legalisation of medical abortion is expected to ease the burden for those in regional, rural and remote areas.
In NSW abortion remains a crime.
A pregnancy can only be terminated if a doctor believes it is necessary to prevent serious risk to the life or health of a woman. Most abortions happen at private clinics.
In May around a third (35%) of MPs voted in favour of legislation to remove abortion from the NSW Crimes Act and establish safe zones around clinics and hospitals.
The bill, introduced by NSW Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi, would have removed abortion from the state's Crimes Act and established 150-metre safe access zones around hospitals and clinics where abortion is provided, in order to protect staff and patients from harassment.
A separate private members' bill from Labor MP Penny Sharpe to create safe access zones around abortion clinics will be debated and voted on in August.
The vast majority (87%) of NSW residents who took part in a poll commissioned by Faruqi believed women should be able to have an abortion; and 81% supported the enactment of protest exclusion zones across the state.
Most (76%) were unaware that abortion was still in the NSW Crimes Act (1900).
In Queensland abortion is still a crime and is only lawful to "prevent serious danger to the woman's physical or mental health".
Women experiencing unplanned pregnancies across the Sunshine State have been turned away from hospitals and obstructed by their GPs; had to buy plane tickets to procure an abortion; and experienced harassment outside clinics, as there is no law stopping protestors from gathering.
In February, independent Cairns MP Rob Pyne withdrew bills to decriminalise abortion in Queensland a day before they were due to be debated in parliament after Liberal National Party opposition leader Tim Nicholls said, “every single member” of his party would vote down the legislation.
The legislation would have failed as Labor MPs had been given a conscience vote on the issue, and other independents had indicated their opposition to abortion.
The bills have been referred to the Queensland Law Reform Commission — which is expected to report early next year — and the Labor government has vowed to "modernise" the state's abortion laws if re-elected.
Medical abortions through a GP in Queensland cost from $350 to $580 upfront before Medicare rebates, with costs as high as $790 for clinics in Rockhampton or Townsville, and as low as $40 at a Cairns clinic.
For surgical abortions the cost is from $400 to $760 for up to 12 weeks and from $810 to $1470 for 12–14 weeks, depending on where the woman lives.
Abortion was legalised in Tasmania in 2013, when it also became unlawful to protest, harass or record within 150 metres of a clinic.
It is now lawful on request up to 16 weeks gestation and beyond that, pending the agreement of two doctors.
There are only two private medical clinics providing termination of pregnancy services in Tasmania, both located in Hobart; people with pregnancies past 14 weeks are referred to clinics in Victoria.
Abortions are legal up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. Only a medical practitioner, not the patient, is liable for fines if the abortion is found to be “unlawful”.
After 20 weeks, it becomes more complex. A woman in WA has to receive approval from two doctors to go ahead with the procedure. Those doctors are selected from a panel of medical practitioners appointed by the health minister. If approved, the procedure can only occur at a hospital determined by the minister.
Abortion was legalised in the Australian Capital Territory in 2002.
One clinic offers surgical abortions in Canberra. It is $500 for a medical or surgical termination.
Women in the ACT have been travelling to nearby Queanbeyan, in NSW, to access cheaper medical abortion drugs (RU486) through the mail, as laws penalise people who carry out abortions outside government-approved clinics.
They have also been sidestepping the need to take the drugs inside a clinic by ordering postal abortion drugs via The Tabbot Foundation.
ACT Labor Party members and delegates have called on their party to consider allowing abortion drugs to be sold in chemists via prescription.
In Western Australia abortion is legal up to 20 weeks, with women under 16 years of age requiring one parent to be informed, and given the opportunity to participate in counselling before a termination can be performed.
Two medical practitioners from a panel of six appointed by the minister for health have to agree that the mother or unborn baby has a severe medical condition.
These abortions can only be performed at a facility approved by the minister.
Some women will travel interstate to obtain a termination after this gestation.
Surgical and medical abortion costs at a private clinic range from $290 to $440.
Abortion is lawful in South Australia if the woman has lived in the state for more than two months, the "maternal health" or "foetal disability" ground is satisfied and the abortion is carried out within 28 weeks of conception by a hospital or legally qualified medical practitioner.
Two doctors also have to agree that the pregnancy would be harmful to the woman’s health, or if there is risk of the child being seriously physically or mentally handicapped.
Under SA law, the woman herself can still be charged with procuring an “unlawful” abortion.
Most abortions in SA are performed in public hospitals, sometimes at no cost.
Since 2008, abortion by a qualified medical practitioner has been legal in Victoria if a woman is less than 24 weeks into a pregnancy.
For an abortion to be lawfully performed after 24 weeks, a second practitioner must agree the termination is in the patient's best interest.
A mother of 13 last year became the first person arrested for breaching Victoria's safe access zone laws — introduced last year — outside a Melbourne fertility clinic.
Abortions performed within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy cost from $160 to $450 depending on the anaesthesia and the type of hospital or clinic.
The Medicare rebate ranges from $116.50 to $165.50.
Gina Rushton is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Gina Rushton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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