There are fears coronavirus is stopping Australia’s migrant women from accessing abortions

SBS News, 26th April 2020

Vulnerable pregnant women could lose access to abortion throughout Australia because of increased financial hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic, reproductive health providers have warned. 

A combination of widespread job losses, differing abortion laws around the country, and patchy access to Medicare, could mean more women need financial assistance to terminate unwanted pregnancies or will face carrying their pregnancies to term.

Some providers even fear a return to people attempting unsafe abortions if women cannot afford legal terminations.

Situational Report: Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights in Australia

Marie Stopes Australia, Updated 17 April 2020

Situational Report: Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights in Australia – A request for collaboration and action to maintain contraceptive and abortion care throughout the SARS-COV-2 / COVID-19 pandemic

Executive Summary

We are in a context of increased risk of unplanned pregnancy, reproductive coercion, sexually transmitted infections, lack of pregnancy options and a multitude of barriers to healthcare. Access to contraception and abortion throughout the pandemic will mitigate broader public health risks for years to come. 
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At Marie Stopes Australia, during the pandemic we have had to:

 Cancel surgical abortion care lists- meaning women and pregnant people have had to continue with their pregnancies or are likely to seek a termination at a later gestation
 Reduce our national gestational limit for surgical abortion to 22 weeks
 Face increased costs in the provision of regional healthcare, having no other option than to charter private flights for clinical staff
 Continuously scramble for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
 Reduce in-clinic list capacity to enable physical distancing
 Reduce contraceptive services in order to prioritise abortion access
 Reduce financial support for clients experiencing financial hardship
 Face increased risk of staff fatigue and burn out
 Evolve models of care in an effort to maintain access to care. To address this situation, we need to review legislation and policy, evolve models of care, maintain people’s rights to access care and make healthcare more affordable.

Key recommendations at this point in the pandemic include:
 All Governments, health and hospital services, and health clinics must consider abortion an essential service with Category 1 classification
 Provide access to medical abortion via telehealth for people living in South Australia
 Increase medical abortion provision to 70 days/10 weeks gestation, supported by the  Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
 All accredited sexual and reproductive healthcare providers should have access to the National Medical Stockpile for PPE
 Intrastate travel support is needed for clinical staff in order to maintain surgical abortion provision in regional and remote clinics
 Do not criminalise women and pregnant people who attempt unsafe abortion

[This report contains] further detail on these points and a longer list of recommendations that Australia will need to consider in o order to maintain sexual and reproductive health
rights throughout the pandemic.

 

 

Early medical abortion: reflections on current practice

O&G Magazine (RANZCOG), by Dr Lisa Rasmussen

In the last 30 years, medical abortion has globally become an established, safe and straightforward method for pregnancies of less than nine weeks gestation. It is now recommended by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists as the method of choice for women up to nine weeks gestation.

The reality of providing medical abortion for women, however, is a more complex matter. Abortion services are contextualised by the specific and, at times, changing abortion laws in each country and state. These laws, in turn, are determined and maintained by each jurisdiction’s specific gendered social and political histories, practices and attitudes.

In Australia and New Zealand, this context continues to affect who can provide medical abortions, the models of care adopted, the ongoing struggle to provide affordable and accessible care to all women, and the level to which medical abortion is accepted as a normal and important part of women’s healthcare.

Within the context of these histories and challenges, this article will attempt to guide you through the process of providing a medical abortion as a health practitioner.

Blueprint for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

Asia Pacific Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Bangkok: July 2019

The resource “Blueprint for  Sexual and Reproductive  Health, Rights, and Justice” has just been released by Asia Pacific Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, and endorsed by multiple international organisations. 

While it focuses on US policy environ, it is more broadly applicable: in particular the focus on sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice – as well as the intersections with numerous other issues such as  gender equity, racial equity, economic justice, environmental justice, the right to community safety, immigrants’ rights, indigenous people’s rights, LGBTQ+ liberation, young people’s rights, and the rights of people with disabilities.

Because sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice intersect with numerous other issues, policy solutions must also seek to further gender equity, racial equity, economic justice, environmental justice, the right to community safety, immigrants’
rights, indigenous people’s rights, LGBTQ+ liberation, young people’s rights, and the rights of people with disabilities.

  • Principle 1: Ensure that Sexual and Reproductive Health Care is Accessible to All People
  • Principle 2: Ensure Discriminatory Barriers in Health Care are Eliminated
  • Principle 3: Ensure that Research and Innovation Advance Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice Now and in the Future
  • Principle 4: Ensure Health, Rights, Justice, and Wellness for All Communities
  • Principle 5: Ensure Judges and Executive Officials Advance Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

Sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice are essential for sustainable economic development, are intrinsically linked to equity and well-being, and are
critical to maternal, newborn, child, adolescent, family, and community health.
Health care cannot truly be comprehensive if it does not include sexual and reproductive health

SHINE SA and FPAA condemn Alabama law to ban abortions (media release)

On 17 May 2019, Family Planning Alliance Australia (FPAA) released a statement condemning a new law in Alabama which makes abortion a crime in almost all cases. This is the most restrictive abortion law in the United States and follows a wave of anti-abortion laws in 2019¹.

FPAA state:

“The restrictive and extreme abortion ban violates women’s reproductive rights and penalises health care practitioners for providing basic health care. As an organisation committed to empowering reproductive choice and improving access to health care, we find this law disturbing and unjust.”

Natasha Miliotis, SHINE SA’s Chief Executive Officer said that:

“SHINE SA supports the FPAA statement and recognises that access to safe abortion services reduces the mortality and morbidity that occurs as a result of dangerous and illegal abortion. This is evidenced by a higher frequency of abortion-related deaths in countries with restrictive abortion laws than in countries with less restrictive laws².

SHINE SA, a member of FPAA, advocates for reproductive freedom and for provision of legal, safe, affordable and accessible abortion in Australia and worldwide. We recognise that trans, gender diverse and intersex people may also need access to abortion, but also that measures such as this disproportionately affect women.

SHINE SA believes that both medical and surgical abortion are safe and effective health interventions and that abortion is a private medical decision that should not be politicised.”

To read the FPAA statement visit this link. For further information contact Tracey Hutt, Director Workforce Education and Development via email. 

 

¹ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/17/we-have-to-fight-alabamas-extreme-abortion-ban-sparks-wave-of-activism

² https://www.researchgate.net/publication/26677181_Unsafe_Abortion_Unnecessary_Maternal_Mortality

Evaluating the cost-effectiveness of existing needle and syringe programmes in preventing hepatitis C transmission in PWID

Drug and Alcohol Findings (UK), 2019

What would happen to rates of infection with hepatitis C if we closed down all the needle exchanges? Research has established that needle/syringe programmes are a cost-effective way to reduce spread of HIV, but just two studies have considered the same issue in relation to hepatitis C.

In three UK municipalities, the answers were predicted to be more infections, lost low-cost opportunities to improve and save lives, and in two of the areas, greater health-related costs overall. Conclusion was that these services are among the best investments UK health services can make.