The Victorian government voted against extending access to abortions

After the cancellation of Roe v Wade, attention has now turned to our own abortion laws here in Australia. Despite efforts to prevent public hospitals from refusing to perform abortions, a bill presented to the Victorian government saw ministers vote against expanding access.

In light of recent events in the United States that shocked the world following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, attention has now turned to our own abortion laws here in Australia. As people in the United States have seen their lives immediately changed by the consequences of the abortion ban, Australians are speaking out to ensure that abortion remains a protected right in all states and territories.

In Victoria, Reason Party MP Fiona Patten introduced a bill to prevent state-funded hospitals (including hospitals associated with religious organisations) from refusing to perform abortions. The bill also sought to expand access to end-of-life treatment for patients who wished to be euthanized. But despite being put to a vote in parliament, Victorian MPs. Voted against expanding access to abortions in state hospitals. By an overwhelming majority, the bill was defeated 28-7.

Patten took to Twitter to express her disappointment at news of the bill’s rejection. “It is a loss for women and gender diverse Victorians, and a loss for free and fair public health services. A victory for religious ideology in the public health system.

For many in Victoria, this has been particularly devastating in light of recent events, which have shown how disastrous lack of access to abortion can be for people from lower socio-economic backgrounds or who have no not have the means or the ability to travel. In contrast, the ACT announced the first week of August that from mid-2023 Canberra residents will have access to free medical and surgical abortions up to 16 weeks gestation.

Patten’s proposal was backed by many, including Victoria Greens Party leader Samantha Ratnam, who tweeted: “Following the cancellation of Roe v Wade it is more important than ever that women and people of diverse gender identities everywhere can access abortion at *all* publicly funded hospitals. They should also be free.

Currently, abortion is generally not fully funded across Australia, with Medicare covering some costs under the public health system, but not all. For those seeking private health care for an abortion, the costs are even more exorbitant. For Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas, the opposition to the bill was simply because the state already has enough pregnancy termination laws. “We have here in Victoria the most progressive laws in the country when it comes to ensuring women have access to the sexual reproductive services they need, including access to termination of pregnancy.”

For Patten, the bill’s rejection only strengthened her resolve to keep pushing, confirming that if re-elected she will re-introduce the bill to parliament for a second time. “We may have lost today, but if I am re-elected, I promise to fight tooth and nail to improve access to abortion.”

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