Rural medical students support free termination of pregnancy services to patch gaps in the healthcare system
8 March 2019
The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) welcomes moves to improve pregnancy termination services in rural Australia.
AMSA Rural Health Vice Chair, Imogen Hines, said today that recent policy discussion regarding new funding for termination of pregnancy services has highlighted health inequities challenging rural Australian women.
“The AMSA Rural Health committee strongly advocates for access to health care, regardless of postcode,” Ms Hines said.
“Australian women living in regional and rural communities have minimal access to termination of pregnancy services due to a lack of facilities and doctors with the required training. Access to safe termination of pregnancy is a vital reproductive right.
“Rural women must travel long distances at significant personal cost to access medical care in an already difficult situation. This is particularly challenging during times of drought when financial hardship prevents women from taking time off.”
AMSA Rural Health member, Andrew Baker, said that funding support for women’s health in regional and rural areas is not limited to providing free termination services in the hospital setting.
“Increasing financial support for doctors to become registered prescribers of medical termination would significantly improve access to this vital service in our regional and rural communities,” Mr Baker said.
AMSA Rural Health member, Illie Hewitt, said that any rural women struggle to access routine antenatal care locally.
“Recently, Queensland women were issued with birthing kits – the type routinely sent to developing countries - in an attempt to prepare the women for birth outside a hospital,” Ms Hewitt said.
“The trend of the closure of rural maternity units in the past 20 years is extremely alarming, with the centralisation of maternity services forcing pregnant women to birth some distances from home.”
AMSA Rural Health Chair, Ms Jacoba Van Wees said that we will celebrate the accomplishments of women everywhere today on International Women’s Day, but it is important that we continue to advocate for the rights of women in our own backyard, especially in disadvantaged rural and regional communities.
AMSA is the peak representative body for Australia’s 17,000 medical students. AMSA Rural Health is a key division which continues to advocate for the health of our unique regional and rural communities.
AMSA 2019 Public Relations Officer
Published: 11 Mar 2019