Women in the Tasmania's North deserve a clear and accessible pathway for surgical termination of pregnancy, according to the head of Family Planning Tasmania, who says abortions should be offered in all public hospitals.
FPT chief executive Cedric Manen said Northern Tasmanian women had "limited or no access" to surgical abortion options, and were facing significant financial and emotional burdens.
The last dedicated provider of surgical abortions in Tasmania closed in December 2017.
Since November 2018, women have been able to access surgical abortions through undisclosed private providers operating out of Hobart only.
While the infrastructure exists for Tasmanian women to access surgical abortions as a legal right, Mr Manen said sadly this wasn't a reality for most Launceston women.
"Women seeking a surgical termination of pregnancy must travel to Hobart," he said. "They typically have to stay for two nights away from their families and support people.
"Whilst the government provides travel support to women accessing this service, the reality is that women are often alone or away from their family and support structures at a time when they need them the most."
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FPT is one of four prescribed health service providers chartered with the responsibility of supporting access to surgical abortions in accordance with Tasmania's Reproductive Health Act 2013.
Mr Manen said surgical abortions should be offered and accessible at all public hospitals - including the LGH - with recent examples provided by FTP regional medical officer Dr Rose Tilsley indicating there was much to do to improve support in Launceston.
Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff said the government understood the importance for women to have clear and easily accessible information on the issue, confirming the Health Department had reached an agreement with Women's Health Tasmania to improve the information available to Tasmanian women seeking to access sexual and reproductive health services across the state. He also pointed to a 2018 Health Department report, tabled in state Parliament.
"It found that the 'provision of adequate resourcing to deliver state-wide surgical terminations in the public and/or private system is best provided through maintenance of the policy and funding positions that has applied for over 10 years'," he said.
"This supports the long-standing policy, of successive governments, where our public hospitals provide terminations for vulnerable women.
"In line with this recommendation, the department is working to finalise a referral pathway for general practitioners and the prescribed health providers to refer vulnerable women seeking a surgical termination in Launceston to the LGH, as occurs in the south of the state with the RHH to ensure that the principle of equity is maintained."
Mr Manen said service providers were meeting with the Health Department next week to learn more about the announcement.
Labor Health spokesman Dr Bastian Seidel said the government had promised to deliver access to terminations three years ago, but had utterly failed and continued to release only confusing information for Tasmanian women.
"Two Health Ministers and three years ago, the Liberals promised to deliver and they simply have not," Dr Seidel said.
"With Michael Ferguson as Health Minister the promise was broken. His successor Sarah Courtney followed suit.
"The only way to access a safe, low cost termination in Tasmania is because we are fortunate to have some private obstetricians who work with organisations like Women's Health Tasmania and Family Planning Tasmania.
"These organisations go above and beyond to ensure people have the transport, the funding and access to legal health procedures.
"But the government continues to utterly fail."