Canada has announced free contraception for women. What’s the situation in Australia?

Reproductive experts and sexual health advocates are calling for a similar change in Australia.

1 April 2024
by Gavin Butler

The Canadian government announced on Saturday that it will soon cover the full cost of common contraceptives for women – including intrauterine devices (IUDs), contraceptive pills and hormonal implants – as part of a major health care reform.

Chrystia Freeland, Canada's deputy prime minister and Minister of Finance, highlighted the financial cost of contraceptives as one of the largest barriers to access, and said that the federal government's universal pharmacare plan would aim to lower that bar for more than nine million Canadian women, whether for reasons of family planning or medical treatment.


Australia – Victorian doctor suspended amid investigation into woman’s death after abortion

Women’s health clinic boss claims ‘witch hunt’ after Dr Rudolph Lopes suspended in weeks following 30-year-old’s death

Australian Associated Press
Fri 15 Mar 2024

A doctor working at a women’s health clinic in Melbourne has been suspended as a regulator revealed it was aware of concerns about other practitioners there. The facility’s boss claims it is a “witch hunt”.

It follows the death of 30-year-old mother Harjit Kaur, who died in January at the Hampton Park Women’s Clinic after what was described as a “minor procedure”.

It was later identified as a pregnancy termination.


Equitable access to abortion care is still not a reality in Australia

Asvini K Subasinghe and Seema Deb
Med J Aust 2024; 220 (3): 134-135. || doi: 10.5694/mja2.52210
Published online: 19 February 2024

The 2023 Senate inquiry into universal access to reproductive health care identified major structural barriers to abortion care in Australia.1 However, in the absence of a national abortion registry, it is unclear whether access is equitable and what factors influence the provision of abortion care. In two articles published in this issue of the MJA, researchers report large population‐based studies that investigated these questions in Victoria.


Abortion is now legal across Australia – but it’s still hard to access. Doctors are both the problem and the solution

December 5, 2023
Barbara Baird, Associate Professor, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Flinders University

Abortion is now fully legal in every jurisdiction in Australia. Western Australia became the last state to decriminalise it just two months ago, in September 2023. And the Australian population is solidly pro-choice: a 2021 study found 76% of Australians support access to abortion.

Yet access to abortion care here has been described as a “lottery” in a 2023 Senate inquiry report. My research into abortion provision in Australia over the past 30 years doesn’t describe chance, but an inadequate system.


Queensland introduces Australian-first law to allow midwives and nurses to prescribe abortion pills

Exclusive: Legislation hailed as big step towards providing fair access to terminations across state

Eden Gillespie
Thu 30 Nov 2023

Queensland will become Australia’s first jurisdiction to introduce a law to allow nurses and midwives to dispense pregnancy termination medication in a move expected to improve access in the state’s “huge abortion deserts”.

In August the Therapeutic Goods Administration scrapped restrictions on the prescription of medical abortion pills, known as MS-2 Step, to be used in the early stages of pregnancy. But it is up to individual jurisdictions to determine the specific healthcare practitioner and the appropriate qualifications for prescribing.


Victoria expands abortion services to more public hospitals to improve accessibility

Exclusive: Hospitals in Melbourne’s eastern and western suburbs, and in the Mornington Peninsula, will now offer surgical abortions

Benita Kolovos, Victorian state correspondent
Tue 28 Nov 2023

Every day Carolyn Mogharbel takes calls from distressed women facing hours-long journeys to Melbourne in order to access a surgical abortion.

Experts such as Mogharbel, a manager at the 1800 My Options program that provides free advice about reproductive health services, have said access to abortion in Victoria largely depends on where a woman lives.


Australia – Contraception Inaccessibility: Violent Act Against Women

Nov 24, 2023
Sustainable Population Australia

On the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25), Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) claims that denying women access to contraception is a form of violence.

SPA national president Jenny Goldie says women and adolescent girls must have the right to decide if or when they have sex, and if and when to have children.


New Zealand /Australia – New clinical guideline for abortion care released

The guidance has been described as an ‘important step’ towards universal access to safe and high-quality abortion care.

Jolyon Attwooll
06 Nov 2023

A new clinical guideline developed by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) has been released.

Targeted at registered health professionals who provide abortion advice and care in both Australia and New Zealand, the document is the first binational guideline on abortion.


Australia – Medical abortions okayed even for second trimester


Australia’s first clinical guidelines outline how to confirm gestational age and abortion completion, as well pain relief and other management.

New clinical guidelines back medical abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, but women’s access may be curtailed by state laws and hospital support.


Australia’s support for safe abortion globally

by Bettina Baldeschi, Daile Kelleher and Anu Kumar
10 October 2023

Last month, Western Australia passed landmark reforms removing barriers to accessing abortion, bringing it into line with other states in Australia. While there are still practical barriers to access, particularly for marginalised groups, every state and territory in Australia has now decriminalised abortion, and the National Women’s Health Strategy lays out a framework for universal access by 2030.

Globally, the picture is very different. Half of all pregnancies worldwide are unintended. In Asia and the Pacific there are 140 million women with an unmet need for family planning. 13% of maternal deaths worldwide result from unsafe abortions.