Ingram Publishing

Abortion: Group says women being disadvantaged

WOMEN in regional areas like Bundaberg continue to be "hugely" disadvantaged compared to their city counterparts when it comes to accessing safe abortion following the failure of a push to decriminalise the practice in State Parliament.

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls declared every Queensland LNP member - 33 men and nine women in total - would vote down the legislation introduced this week by independent MP Rob Pyne, who then withdrew the bills.

It means abortion remains in the Queensland Criminal Code, technically allowed only "to preserve the mother's life".

In Bundaberg, there are no abortion clinics, according to not-for-profit organisation Children By Choice.

The nearest are in Rockhampton to the north or Nambour to the south.

"As soon as you get out of the south-east corner you have to travel if it's over nine weeks gestation," CBC's Amanda Bradley said.

"And even if it is under nine weeks there is a very small number of providers."

A small number of GPs provide medical terminations, but some only provide the service for their existing clients.

These doctors are not publicly listed.

"If it was found they were providing terminations outside the current legislation they could be prosecuted," Ms Bradley said.

"A local GP providing abortion up to nine weeks gestation could be victims of harassment, let alone the woman who might have questions about an unplanned pregnancy."

An organisation like CBC can provide counselling or refer a woman seeking a termination to a provider.

Ms Bradley said while abortion rates were dropping worldwide due to better access to contraception and sex education, misinformation was rife.

"There's a huge amount of rubbish out there," she said, adding authoritative medical websites were the best resource - not Facebook.

"We talk to women who have searched the internet for ways to induce their own miscarriage.

"We talk to women who have tried ... and women who have had to be hospitalised."

There are believed to be between 10,000 and 14,000 abortions every year in Queensland, but the number is broad because unlike surgical procedures, medical terminations are not tracked by Medicare.

Burnett MP Stephen Bennett slammed the bills.

"In good conscience, I could not possibly have supported Rob Pyne's Abortion Bills. It's not a decision I took lightly," Mr Bennett said.

"These Bills clearly had major flaws, to the extent where it left areas of abortion unregulated. Most concerning is that the Bill would have made it legal for a woman to secure her own abortion without any medical supervision - including by illicitly obtained drugs.

"The most recent Parliamentary Committee report makes it very clear that if a woman in Queensland wants or needs an abortion, she can obtain one safely through her doctor."

Bundaberg MP Leanne Donaldson said the bills needed revision.

"The Pyne Bill was flawed in a legal sense," she said.

"The Palaszczuk Government will refer the current laws to the Queensland Law Reform Commission for its advice. The QLRC recommendations will be the basis for legislation the government will introduce to Parliament for debate."

THE FACTS

MEDICAL ABORTION

Timeline: Nine weeks

Method: MS 2-Step, a two-dose prescription of mifepristone (aka RU486) and misoprostol

Providers: Selected GPs

SURGICAL ABORTION

Timeline: Some clinics offer up to 19 weeks.

Providers: Specialised clinics and some public hospitals


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