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Call for full abortion services at Wagga hospital

By : ABC News|Updated: 2011-11-18

A women's health advocate says without full termination services in Wagga Wagga, Riverina women are being subjected to an unequitable public health system.

The Murrumbidgee Health District says 15 abortions have been performed at the Wagga Base Hospital in the 12 months to June - all for medical reasons.

The president of the Wagga Women's Health Centre, Jan Roberts, says that news is reassuring.

However, she says women seek terminations for valid social and economic reasons as well and should have access to the procedure in the public system.

She says that should be addressed in the building of the new Wagga Base Hospital.

"There needs to be an actual public gynaecological/family planning type clinic at the hospital so that women can make an appointment about this issue," she said.

"At present we have a family planning clinic in Wagga, which is publicly funded, but they cannot refer anywhere for a termination locally.

"It is not as though we're talking about an illegal activity, the public system is all about access and equity."

Ms Roberts recently spoke out about the lack of termination services locally, blaming a conservative Christian medical establishment.

The Minister for Women, Pru Goward, says the choice of an abortion should be available locally if that is what the region wants.

However, Ms Roberts says she thinks the Women's Health Centre will have to do the pushing.

"I don't think there is going to be a large protest from our community about this," she said.

"People don't want to appear to be pro-abortion because it seems you're anti-life and that's not what people are talking about when they talk about the 'right of choice'.

"It's much more complex. Most often you never hear from the people that are most disadvantaged by public health policy or access, because there's an acceptance that they're not going to have the services they need."

She says the latest restructure in health is about delivering services at the local level and has called on directors of the Murrumbidgee Health District to address the problem.

"Probably there needs to be some pressure placed on the new local health district board, who are now in charge of looking at the services being provided in our community, and we need to take that up with them and say, 'what are you going to do about this?'" she said.

Source: ABC News