Page 2386 - Week 07 - Thursday, 4 August 2022

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judgement of others, even where that does not involve physical intimidation or the throwing of blood, real or fake.

On 1 July 2019 legislation commenced that provides different definitions for medical and surgical abortions. Prior to this change, all abortions were required to be carried out in an approved medical facility. While surgical abortions must still be carried out in an approved medical facility, this change was designed to make medical abortions more accessible to Canberrans. These legislative updates allow specially trained general practitioners and telehealth services to prescribe abortifacients, the medication used for a medical abortion, and to train pharmacists to dispense these medications.

So we have largely delivered on two of the three calls on the bumper sticker that was proudly displayed on my first car, more than 30 years ago: “Make abortion safe, free and legal.” Abortion is legal and it is safe. But I was shocked a few years ago when a group of Young Labor activists, through Labor for Choice, started talking about how expensive abortion is and the barrier that this creates to accessing the safe and legal abortions that our laws enable. These young activists highlighted that the most significant barrier to accessing abortions for people in the ACT is the cost.

Labor for Choice succeeded in their advocacy for federal Labor to commit, at the 2019 election, to ensuring that abortion would be available for free across Australia. Unfortunately, Labor was not elected in 2019 and the very welcome Albanese government has not repeated this commitment. So in an early letter to the incoming minister, Mark Butler, I called on the new commonwealth government to revisit and take action on this earlier commitment.

In the meantime, the 2022-23 budget includes a $4.6 million investment that will make medical and surgical abortions free for Canberrans who need them. We have made this change because we know that, across Australia, estimates suggest that one in three women experience unintended pregnancy in their lifetime, with half of these being terminated. Ensuring that Canberrans can access this service, no matter their financial circumstances, is critical to an equitable healthcare system. This means that individuals will be supported to make a choice about having an abortion without being influenced by financial barriers. It also means that an abortion can occur in a timely way, without being delayed due to the inability to pay.

I am proud to be a member of the Labor Party that has driven these reforms, and of being able to help push the ACT further forward in the next step that we have delivered today. There is always more work to do, and the decisions taken in the United States only reinforce the need to continue this fight. I commend the Deputy Chief Minister for bringing this motion to the Assembly. I look forward to continuing to work with her and for all of us continuing the work that her father, Wayne Berry, led in this place. I commend her leadership on this issue and I commend the motion to the Assembly.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.23 to 2.00 pm.

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