LEGISLATORS have been urged to keep proposed laws governing abortion in Tasmania broad so they are flexible enough to deal with different cases.
A Legislative Council committee on the Reproductive Health (Access to terminations) Bill 2013 heard that the proposed laws would greatly improve abortion access in Tasmania, but only if the legislation did not become prescriptive.
The bill proposes decriminalising abortion and setting up a two-tiered system where two doctors are required to say termination is necessary for mental, physical or socio-economic reasons for pregnancies past 16 weeks' gestation.
It does not specifically list foetal abnormalities as a reason for termination, which Mersey MLC Ruth Forrest said doctors have called for so they would not have to disingenuously attribute those terminations to mental health.
Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists president Professor Michael Permezel said attempting to broaden the reasons for a late-term termination beyond the effect on the mother risked stigmatising some conditions. But Professor Permezel said leaving the law open as a matter between a woman and her doctor was not palatable in the wider community.
``There's a community expectation that the termination of pregnancy would not be treated like Panadol for a headache or indeed treatment for cancer,'' he said.
The Link Youth Health Network said it had spent more than $50,000 a year for the past four years supporting women aged 12 to 25 access a termination.
Chief executive David Perez said it regularly payed more than $1300 comon flights, accommodation and clinic costs in Melbourne for a woman and her support person in Melbourne when the pregnancy was too advanced to be terminated in Tasmania.
Marie Stopes International said more than half of the Tasmanians at its Melbourne clinic were there because of a delay in the referral or termination process, which meant they missed the 14-week window for accessing a Tasmanian clinic.