How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting access to abortion services in Australia?

We know that the situation is changing rapidly, and every day we wake to more cases, and to new government directives on the way we need to respond out here in the community. We also know that in places like America, abortion access has been limited as governments shut down all elective medical procedures. But for now, abortion procedures in Australia seem to remain unaffected.

Abortions are still happening.

Australia’s largest abortion provider Marie Stopes has confirmed on social media and via its website that abortions continue to take place:

“We currently do not foresee any significant disruption to our services and we are developing new ways of offering our services to maintain access.”

The main difference at this point is that women visiting a Marie Stopes clinic are not permitted to be accompanied by a support person. They will need to enter and exit the facilities, and undergo any procedures, on their own.

Anecdotally, midwives are telling us that abortions are still happening in our public hospitals too.

And this is not surprising.

Whether there’s a pandemic underway or not, there will be women discovering today and tomorrow and the next day that they are unexpectedly pregnant. These women will be grappling with shock, and will likely be asking some or all of these questions:

  • Who should I tell?
  • Where can I find help?
  • What¬†should I do?

Their stress will be heightened as they are also coming to terms with the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on their lifestyle.

Try putting yourself in their shoes

Imagine all the anxiety of the global pandemic on top of the realisation that you are pregnant and your baby will likely be born into this time of fear and uncertainty.

Which is why we need to be more vigilant than ever. We need to be hyper alert to the people in our midst who might be needing our support. We need to be the Who and the Where and the What of those three questions up there, even if it is to direct them to a person or service better equipped to give the answers. COVID-19 doesn’t give us a reason to stop loving, to stop looking out for these abortion vulnerable women in our communities. In fact, we need to up the ante.

What can you do?

Be the calming, supportive voice in her life.
Be peace and light.
Be everything you were before, and a little bit more.
Be loving, understanding, non-shaming.
Be helpful.
Be inquisitive (ask her, “What would it take for you to keep this baby?”).

The wonderful thing about reaching out to people during a time of crisis is that our eyes are averted from our own situation. The distraction of extending a hand to someone else doing it tough will be a blessing to you. We promise!

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