OPINION: Whether you agree with abortion or not, it’s not about that - it’s about access to health care


Dr Emma Boulton is the Director of Clinic 66, a Sydney abortion provider. She says our current abortion laws leave the women who need help the most without a voice.

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This is the 21st Century. You've got to realise that abortion access is not about abortion, it's actually a human right. It's about looking after the most vulnerable people in our state. Whether you agree with abortion or not, it's not about that - it's about access to health care.

The problem with abortion in Australia is that no one wants to talk about it. It's a very stigmatised area of medicine. The Royal Colleges don't want to talk, politicians don't want to talk, and as a result it's a very stigmatised issue.

As an abortion provider myself, I'm even discriminated against by my own professional colleagues. It's incredibly frustrating, but the worst thing is not being able to look after the women who are most vulnerable.

It's the women who cannot access the care who need it the most.

There's no responsibility being given to those women at all. For me, professionally and personally, it's devastating to see the impact the inability to access decent abortion care brings.

Unplanned pregnancy impacts in a very negative way on both physical and mental health. It's the judgemental attitudes, the lack and access and the costs - unimaginable.

I'm contacted twice a week, sometimes more, by social workers ringing up begging us to do procedures for free, because the women they're helping can't access services in any other location.

For the women who do come to my clinic, there's a combination of ignorance, anger and disbelief that they're being so discriminated against.

This is the 21st Century. Reproductive health care shouldn't be hit and miss.

It's embarrassing, frankly, to have the legal position that we have in New South Wales.

If it's your day job to look after people - like politicians, or doctors - then there's absolutely no place for personal-held religious beliefs to get in to the policies that you make.

We should be careful to be so quick to criticise parts of the United States for the backwards movements they're making when it comes to reproductive health care. We're not so different. We still have archaic laws, despite obvious opinions to the contrary.

Our NSW state and federal governments are over-represented by white males with conservative views.

The fact that they can legislate for women and what happens to their bodies is ridiculous.

I hope that as more women come into parliament, their views of the population would be more fairly represented then they are at the moment.

This is the 21st Century. We need to mobilise.

New South Wales is the only state in Australia that's lagging behind - it's an embarrassment, it's an anomaly and it's got to change in the next year.

We just need to talk about abortion, raise it into the public agenda and look at those reasons why there's been ignorance in the past.

Again: whether or not you agree with it, this is not about abortion - this is a human right.

Dr Emma Boulton is a sexual and reproductive health expert and Director of Clinic 66, an abortion provider in Sydney.