Canberrans to have free access to safe abortion services

The ACT Government will ensure Canberrans have access to safe, accessible and affordable abortion services with funding for free medical and surgical abortions up to 16 weeks.

From early next year, all ACT residents will be eligible for this service, including those without a Medicare card.

The Government is investing more than $4.6 million over four years to remove out-of-pocket costs.

This investment is the latest action by the ACT Government to protect the rights of women and people who can become pregnant. The funding enables them to make decisions about their health care based on what is best for them and their bodies.

Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Women Yvette Berry said the new funding continued the ACT Government’s commitment to ensuring the right for Canberra women and people who can become pregnant to access safe abortion services.

“Improving the affordability of abortions and addressing any potential inequity in accessing abortion services has long been a goal of the ACT Government,” Minister 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.

“This commitment follows on other ACT Government actions to improve the rights of women in accessing abortion services, including the decriminalisation of abortion services in 2002, the banning of protestors in 2016, and legislation to improve access to medical abortions in 2019.”

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said she is proud the ACT continues to implement changes that improve access to safe and legal abortions.

“One of the most significant barriers to accessing safe abortion services in the ACT has been the out-of-pocket costs,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.

“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.

“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 said It is important for everyone who cares about bodily autonomy and reproductive justice to continue pushing for universal, affordable access to abortion.

“We welcome this funding initiative to support anyone to access free surgical abortion within the existing gestational limits in the ACT,” Ms 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.”

People accessing abortion services will be able to receive free long-acting reversible contraceptives at the time of abortion, which has been shown to reduce demand for abortion. Funding will support the development of communications to improve awareness of abortion services.

The ACT Government will work with service providers on arrangements to cover the out-of-pocket costs for people accessing abortion services in the ACT. This work is expected to be completed during the first half of 2023.

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