Australia’s federal government is under increasing pressure to increase access to essential women’s health services, including calls for a national abortion fund to be included in the federal budget.

Women are entitled to sexual and reproductive healthcare services as a basic human right. Those who are facing an unwanted pregnancy, regardless of age, location, socio-economic status, or any other demographic, need to be able to access abortion services safely, affordably, and promptly, and all women need to be able to acquire (and afford) the contraception method that best suits them.

While abortion is now decriminalised in all jurisdictions throughout Australia, too many women are being failed by inequality in our healthcare system. For example, many women in Australia must currently travel long distances and incur significant expenses (that many can’t afford) to receive the care they need.

The Senate Inquiry into Universal Access to Reproductive Healthcare

Initiated and chaired by the Greens, the fifth and final public hearing of the Senate Inquiry into Universal Access to Reproductive Healthcare was held on April 28, 2023. It heard from women across Australia, including healthcare professionals, industry groups, experts, and other advocates.

Despite abortion being fully decriminalised and legal (with conditions) throughout Australia, access to it and other women’s reproductive services is not currently equitable and is very much a “postcode lottery”. Practical access and financial considerations continue to be major barriers for many women who seek abortion services. This is particularly the case for women living in rural, regional, and remote areas and those living with financial hardship.

A significant need for a national abortion fund was highlighted at the inquiry.

This follows from a 2019 election pledge by the Labor Party (now in government) to offer taxpayer-funded abortions in the public hospital system. The pledge also formed the basis of funding agreements, by which hospitals receiving federal funds would need to provide publicly funded abortion services.

Although Labor is now in government, this pledge has yet to be honoured, and the Greens have accused the government of failing to deliver on this commitment – while the Prime Minister has recently said that, despite Commonwealth funding, it is up to the States to determine which services they offer. This is a clear shift from the Labor Party’s stated pre-election policy.

How Could a National Abortion Fund Improve Access?

The senate inquiry called for:

  • Improved contraceptive access, including affordability and access to long-acting reversible contraceptives.
  • Free medical abortions through all public hospitals, GPs, and private clinics.
  • Free surgical abortions at all public hospitals and private clinics.

Proposed by the Greens, a national abortion fund would primarily offer women nationwide (particularly those living in financial distress or who are otherwise disadvantaged) a clearer pathway to access the sexual and reproductive healthcare they need and are entitled to. It would also seek to bridge certain gaps in the public health system.

There are many regional towns and remote communities with no GP or pharmacists who are willing (or adequately trained) to prescribe medical abortions or long-acting reversible contraceptives, and many regional hospitals (and all Faith-based hospitals) do not offer abortion services at all – notwithstanding that they are recipients of Commonwealth funding).

The cost of a non-Medicare-covered abortion is prohibitive for a lot of women; nor does this consider the practical costs of travelling far from home to visit a clinic.

The Role of Nurses and Midwives

Nurses and midwives widely support this incentive and are also calling for enhanced training and greater powers to prescribe medical abortions and contraception.

There are currently more than 36,000 midwives across Australia, yet fewer than 1000 of these are endorsed to prescribe scheduled medicines, which include hormonal contraceptives and medical abortion medications. Increasing the power of midwives (who are highly-trained medical professionals) in this area would improve access for women and remove a lot of the barriers which prevent so many from receiving the reproductive and sexual healthcare they are entitled to.

Long-Acting Contraceptive Access

Access to long-acting reversible contraceptives (for example, the Mirena or Kyleena intrauterine device) was also highlighted during the hearing, from both an affordability perspective as well as long wait times in the public health system for insertion. Furthermore, the experience of too many women who do manage to access these devices is poor due to issues surrounding health literacy and pain minimisation /management during the insertion procedure. At GCA, we provide insertions under sedation.

There are now calls for a PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) review of contraception, particularly focusing on affordability and contraceptives for all genders, but especially for under-utilised contraceptive options.

What About Private Clinics?

It is our strongly held belief that federal funding must be extended to private abortion clinics and women’s health clinics. The NSW and ACT public health systems simply do not have the capacity to meet the needs of women in the timely manner required for these services.

Waiting lists for public patients are not compatible with the urgent or semi-urgent nature of providing first trimester abortion services. Furthermore, private clinic appointments must be accessible for all women – not just those who reside close by and/or who can afford to pay out-of-pocket themselves.

Additionally, private women’s health and abortion clinics are staffed by doctors and nurses who have the unique training, expertise, and experience to provide what is a specialised service – it can’t be adequately provided by just any doctor in the public system.

True equality in women’s health care must incorporate and provide universal access to private as well as public abortion services.

Women’s Health Services at Gynaecology Centres Australia

All women deserve the very best in healthcare, when they need it, with confidentiality and compassion. 

Gynaecology Centres Australia is a private clinic offering women safe, legal first-trimester surgical abortion services, contraception, and other women’s sexual and reproductive healthcare services. We also provide vasectomies for men.


Our staff are all compassionate, experienced specialist doctors and nurses with the training and expertise to provide a level of care that is world-class.

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Please call 02 9585 9599 or complete our online booking form.