Ainslie Drewitt-Smith and Melinda James for ABC News write:
Women seeking abortions in regional NSW are being forced to travel long distances, pay large sums or self-terminate their pregnancies due to poor access to publicly-funded services, according to caseworkers.
Earlier this month Queensland decriminalised the termination of a pregnancy, making NSW the only state in Australia where abortion remains a criminal act, punishable by up to five years in prison.
Pregnancies can be terminated in NSW legally if a woman’s mental and physical health is in danger.
“Regional and rural access is extremely poor and that’s the bigger picture,” Illawarra Women’s Health Centre general manager Sally Stevenson said.
Tracy Lumb runs the Women’s Health Centre in the Shoalhaven region, which has the second-highest domestic violence rate in the state.
“We see a lot of times that women who are victims of domestic violence continue to fall pregnant because that’s another form of manipulation and abuse, tying the woman to that perpetrator,” Ms Lumb said.
A spokesperson for the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District said public health facilities across the state do perform terminations, however they must adhere to the legislative framework and be approved by a general practitioner.
“As such there is no designated public service providing terminations of pregnancy,” the spokesperson said.
Bulk-billed medical terminations can be accessed through certain clinics and can cost up to $500.