Tasmania’s Only Dedicated Abortion Clinic Has Been Closed

Advocates fear women will be forced to travel interstate.

Abortion Tasmania

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Tasmania’s only dedicated abortion clinic has closed its doors, leaving women requiring surgical abortions faced with the prospect of having to travel interstate.

Dr Paul Hyland ran the Specialist Gynaecology Centre in Hobart, but said that a combination of rising costs and a decrease in demand led to the clinic being shuttered at the end of 2017. It follows the closure of his clinic in Launceston the year before.

“In the year 2000 when we set up shop there were 25 to 30 surgical terminations of pregnancy a week,” Hyland told BuzzFeed earlier this week. “When Tasmania got medical terminations [in 2013] that went into rapid decline. We’d be running at a loss if we kept going for the handful of surgical patients we get every week.”

According to Hyland, a majority of women in Tasmania who seek a termination do so via a medical abortion using the drug RU486, a process which is feasible for the first nine weeks of the pregnancy. After that, a surgical abortion is required.

Asked what women who required a surgical option would do, Hyland replied “you’ll have to ask the government.”

Tasmanian Health Minister Michael Ferguson is anti-abortion, and campaigned with church leaders against the introduction of RU486 in the state. But Hyland told the ABC that the minister needed to be “pragmatic about the services that are required to Tasmanian people disregarding his own personal values”.

According to the ABC, the closure of Hyland’s clinic means there is only one place in the state currently offering surgical abortions — a private gynaecological clinic in Hobart where the procedure can cost up to $2,500.

Meanwhile, the chief executive of Family Planning Tasmania has warned that some women requiring an abortion may be forced to travel interstate — a situation he described as “absolutely not ideal”.

“Travel before or after the procedure is not advised,” Cedric Manen told the ABC. “Also in any recovery-type situation it’s best to have your friends and family surrounding you … the women would have very little support.”

A spokesperson for the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services told BuzzFeed the state government was “currently investigating options regarding the provision of surgical terminations,” and that “women requiring information regarding pregnancy termination should contact their general practitioner for advice.”

Feature image via misawa.af.mil