Anthony Albanese Won’t Fulfil Labor’s 2019 Pledge To Make Abortions More Accessible

“We don’t control the health system. The states control the health system.”

Anthony albanese

Want more Junkee in your life? Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so you always know where to find us.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has quashed hopes the Labor Party will revive its promised abortion policy in the wake of recent conversations surrounding abortion access in Australia.

The 2019 policy — championed by then Opposition spokesperson for Women Tanya Plibersek as an election pledge — would require public hospitals to offer abortions if they were receiving Commonwealth funding.

“We wouldn’t accept someone having to travel that far for a hip replacement or a broken bone. Women deserve better,” said Plibersek at the time, noting that women in regional and remote areas, as well as the whole state of Tasmania, had to travel significant distances for the procedure.

But despite calls from Labor MP for Keppel, Brittany Lauga to implement the policy now that the party has been sworn into government, Albanese has confirmed he will not do so.

In an interview with Melbourne radio station 3AW on Wednesday, Albanese confirmed that he had no plans to implement the funding caveat, stressing that it was a “state matter”.

“We don’t control the health system. The states control the health system,” said Albanese.

“We’re fortunate that in Australia we don’t have the sort of divisive debate that has occurred in the US that we’ve seen playing out with a Supreme Court decision on Roe v Wade.”

While it is true that Australians’ right to an abortion isn’t being threatened, the situation in the US in recent weeks has highlighted the major issues with our own abortion access — largely, the fact that huge parts of the country are abortion deserts.

The lack of Australian GPs registered to prescribe medical termination drugs, time limits on surgical terminations, and the fact that private clinics can be prohibitively expensive results in a postcode lottery in Australia, with those living outside of metropolitan areas having a far more difficult experience obtaining an abortion.

National gender equity organisation Fair Agenda is calling for the government to ensure access to abortion is accessible and affordable regardless of location or socioeconomic status.

“There are significant barriers in Australia for people in regional and remote, as well as culturally and linguistically diverse communities,” campaign manager Alyssa Shaw told the AAP, stressing that the procedure should be fully covered by Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

“It shouldn’t be a postcode lottery dependent on where you live,” she said.

The topic is expected to be discussed when Minister for Women Katy Gallagher meets with state and territory leaders on Friday to discuss policy issues relating to women’s safety, economic security and equality.