Expanding abortion services is a priority for the Queensland government, with most residents in regional areas still having to travel to Brisbane for a surgical termination.
The closure of clinics operated by Marie Stopes in central and north Queensland last year has left a gap yet to be filled, Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said on Friday.
“I don’t want to just fill the gaps they left behind, I want to see an improvement across our (health services),” Ms D’Ath told a budget estimates hearing.
“I know that the majority of women, for surgical terminations, are still having to travel to Brisbane.”
Work is underway in Townsville and central Queensland to improve access, and Ms D’Ath has asked all health districts to look at service provision.
“I do want to see more services provided and more accessibility, because we know timing is essential around these issues,” she said.
Being away from home for the amount of time needed to travel to the city can bring an added layer of complexity to what is often already a stressful situation.
“The pregnancy might not be known by their partner and they might not want them to know,” Ms D’Ath said.
“Travelling away, they have to explain why they’re going to be away from home.”
Surgical terminations have also highlighted issues within the health system not previously encountered.
“We have to deal with conscientious objectors … we have to look at the skill set and expertise that we have in each of those (health services) and how we actually ensure that we’re putting the patient first,” she said.