Public hospitals are accused of blocking layoffs

Clinic 66 is frequently forced to turn women away from across the state and off the freeway because they can’t keep up with demand.

“We’re trying to accommodate as many women as we can, but when it comes to complications, it’s just not safe [performing abortions] in a private day surgery,” she said.

“If there’s a certain personality leading this team, a woman just won’t be able to pull through.”

dr Emma Boulton, director of the Clinic 66 sex health practice

Anna Noonan, a University of Sydney researcher studying abortion access in western NSW, said that in some public hospitals there is an unspoken rule about who does or does not deserve an abortion.

“If it’s a non-viable pregnancy or miscarriage, don’t worry. If it’s rape or sexual assault, they’ll do it once. Why must there be a reason? That’s the problem, and that’s the hardest thing to change,” Noonan said.

“We hear people carrying pregnancies who feel they can’t handle and care for [a child] simply because they cannot access abortion services.


“The impact on the woman, the family, the potential child and the community is immense. That is extremely unacceptable.”

University of Sydney professor Deborah Bateson and co-founder of the advocacy group Clinicians for Choice said hospitals are not the ideal setting for managing early abortions, but having transparent pathways to public hospitals for surgical abortions is crucial to the women who need them.

Data from MSI Australia (formerly Marie Stopes Australia) shows that 78 percent of the abortions its clinics perform are under nine weeks.

GPs are best able to provide this through medical abortion (taking medication to induce a miscarriage), Bateson said. Yet fewer than 1,500 of Australia’s 37,000 family doctors are nationally certified medical abortion prescribers.


“We know that family doctors do not feel supported in performing medical abortions if they do not have access to public hospitals in case someone is not eligible or has crossed the pregnancy line [of nine weeks] for a medical abortion or complication,” Bateson said.

A review by NSW Health to improve access to reproductive health services, particularly in rural and regional NSW, is ongoing.

A spokeswoman for Minister for Women and Regional Health Bronnie Taylor said she would ask NSW Health to complete an updated review of options for expanding public abortion and reproductive health services as a matter of priority.

“Access to reproductive health care, including safe abortion, is a human right and critical to promoting and protecting women’s health,” the spokesman said.

Labor NSW health spokesman Ryan Park said if elected Labor would ensure women seeking termination have safe and clear access to abortion.

“Women in NSW have a legal right to safe and accessible abortions and the government has failed to ensure we have a clear and transparent path for women in our public hospitals,” Park said.

Green Party women’s rights spokeswoman Jenny Leong MP said it was unacceptable that women who want an abortion are facing massive obstacles three years after abortion was decriminalised.

“Leaving our public health system struggling without funding is a political choice against the election,” Leong said.

The Morning Edition Newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Login here. Public hospitals are accused of blocking layoffs

Justin Scacco

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