Call to harmonise abortion laws 'overdue'

·1-min read

Abortion laws across Australia should be harmonised to ensure all women have access to the health service, an independent MP says.

West Australian MP Kate Chaney has used a speech to federal parliament to draw attention to the restrictive abortion laws in her state and call on the government to take action.

Ms Chaney wants increased data retention of the procedure and new Medicare item numbers to cover terminations to ensure there is equitable access.

"In Western Australia, abortion is still in the criminal code and there's limited access to terminations through the public health system," she told parliament on Tuesday.

"The choice to have a termination after 20 weeks doesn't belong to the pregnant woman and her healthcare provider but rather to an ethics panel of six people appointed by the health minister."

At the 2019 federal election Labor proposed a policy to require public hospitals to provide abortion services as part of their federal funding arrangements in a bid to increase accessibility.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed in July his government would not revive the policy, saying it was up to state governments to decide what services are offered in public hospitals.

But the federal government has a responsibility to ensure all Australian women have equal access to safe abortion care, Ms Chaney said.

"The harmonisation of abortion laws across Australia is overdue," the MP for the seat of Curtin said.