Most public hospitals do not offer the procedure

“These are the types of cases we face every day,” she said. “Women in rural and regional areas are particularly disadvantaged.”


Jess Scott Hayes discovered she was pregnant two weeks after she reported her abusive partner to the police.

“Being committed to someone like that for the rest of my life was never an option,” she said.

The then 22-year-old was eight weeks pregnant when a blood test confirmed it.

Because there was no public abortion service in her area, it was another three weeks before she secured an appointment with a private abortion provider in the Gold Coast, almost a two-hour drive north of her home.


She paid $700 for her surgical abortion and for the insertion of a Mirena intrauterine contraceptive.

“I’m so thankful that I was able to do this and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to afford it, but a lot of people can’t,” she said. “It should be free and safe for everyone, no matter where you live.”

About 60 per cent of abortions in NSW are surgical (performed in an operating room) rather than medical (medication taken to induce a miscarriage).

Yet only 0.7 per cent were performed in public hospitals after decriminalization in 2020, the latest available data from NSW Health shows.


The Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 removed abortion from the Crimes Act and allowed abortions up to 22 weeks and beyond 22 weeks with the consent of two doctors.

Supporters of the legislative change on both sides of the NSW Parliament hoped that decriminalizing abortion would remove the legal barriers preventing health services from performing abortions and would allow access to any woman who wished to do so.

Black said hospitals have not taken on the responsibility for setting up abortion services, despite showing the clinical skills needed to perform a surgical abortion under the 12th NSW health data.

“We provide free prenatal care and care for women who have miscarried, but there is no regular care for women who want a surgical abortion, with these two exceptions [the public hospitals in NSW that run abortion services],” She said.


The advocacy group Australian Clinicians for Choice, co-founded by Black, commissioned a survey of 650 NSW residents in January and February that found two-thirds (68 per cent) thought every public hospital offering women’s health services also performed abortions should.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has developed a pathway for abortion and contraception education, but the pathway can only be carried out in two hospitals in Australia – the John Hunter Hospital and the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne – since the services that Train Clinicers serve aren’t available anywhere else, Black said.

“Training for the actual procedure, counseling patients about their options, post-abortion care and contraception…these are skills that our OB/GYN trainees just don’t get because the services don’t exist,” Black said.

A spokesman for NSW Health said local health districts that do not provide abortions have an obligation to develop local referral pathways to ensure women have timely access to abortion services and support a Family Planning Australia pilot called SEARCH to increase access improve.

NSW Health also supports the NSW Pregnancy Choices Helpline (1800 008 463) to help women find abortion service providers as well as information on pregnancy counseling, the spokesman said.

The Morning Edition Newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Login here. Most public hospitals do not offer the procedure

Justin Scacco

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