Medical And Surgical Abortions Will Be Free In The ACT From Next Year
"This means that individuals will be supported to make a choice about having an abortion without being influenced by financial barriers."
Canberra residents will have free access to both medical and surgical abortions from mid-2023 as part of a new ACT government pledge.
ACT Minister for Women Yvette Berry made the announcement on Thursday, saying the initiative will remove financial barriers impacting pregnant people from accessing the procedure and allow them to make decisions based on what is “best for them and their bodies”.
“This means that individuals will be supported to make a choice about having an abortion without being influenced by financial barriers,” said Berry. “It also means that having an abortion can occur in a time-sensitive manner without being delayed due to an inability to pay.”
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith has commended the initiative, calling it “essential”.
“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,” said Stephen-Smith.
In a massive win for abortion access in the territory, the free services will not be limited to Medicare card holders, meaning anyone who needs to terminate a pregnancy will be able to do so without financial barriers.
Abortions will be offered up to 16 weeks gestation.
In addition to providing free terminations, the initiative will also offer abortion recipients free, long-lasting contraception options — in an attempt to reduce demand for further abortions in future. Long-term options such as IUDs, implants and injections offer extended protection but are easily reversible.
The initiative is set to cost the territory government $4.6 million over the next four years and is part of a broader plan to improve abortion accessibility and affordability in the area.
The news comes after the recent overturning of Roe v Wade shed light on Australia’s flawed abortion system, which can be prohibitively expensive and require pregnant people to travel hours to access the procedure.