WASH House campaigns for bulk-billed abortions

May 1st 2013

Mt Druitt - St Marys Standard - WASH House

THE WASH House is campaigning for better abortion services for NSW women.

The suggested solution, which operates in other states, is a government-funded pregnancy-options service, which would provide bulk-billed terminations.

WASH House manager Catherine White said the current system required women to pay up to $700 for an abortion, even after the Medicare gap.

“For a woman on Centrelink, paying that amount is impossible,” she told The Standard.

“Abortion is not something any woman takes lightly.

“It is physically invasive and emotionally traumatic.”

Over a six-month period in 2012, the WASH House referred more than 15 women to Blacktown Hospital’s Medicare-funded abortion service – none of these women were assisted.

One woman was living in domestic violence and decided to leave her relationship. She didn’t want to be a single parent to that baby and felt having it might result in her returning to the abusive relationship. She wasn’t able to access a Medicare-funded abortion, despite ticking all the boxes in the eligibility criteria.

Each week, Blacktown-Mt Druitt Hospital can offer two appointments for elective termination, which is performed on healthy women up to 12 weeks pregnant — 96 a year, though there may be less depending on patients and the availability of obstetricians/gynaecologists.

There is one obstetrician/gynaecologist who provides this service at the hospital.

In the Blacktown local government area, there are more than 260,000 people.

In 2012, the hospital received 154 general inquiries about terminations.

Hospital general manager Andrew Newton said all requests for termination were referred to a women and children’s health social worker for assessment.

“The social worker assesses eligibility for termination … based on the criteria,” he said.

Bianca Freedman