WOMEN will always need access to abortion.
They will get that access somehow, no matter what barriers you place in their way.
In Tasmania, the first barrier is time.
Can you line up two doctors appointments, convince them that it is required for your well-being, knock over the counselling session and book into one of two day clinics that offer terminations in this state before the 12-week window in which day clinics can operate has lapsed?
The second barrier is money.
If you have missed the 12-week window, or you are worried word might get out in your small community that you are having the big-A, you jump on a plane to Melbourne.
There are groups in Tasmania who raise funds to cover the airfares of those women who can't afford it, and help them cover the $300-plus procedure cost.
You will still have the abortion, if that is what you have decided to do, or your might change your mind.
But that decision is made apart from the law and despite the tedious approval obstacle-course.
When she announced plans to decriminalise abortion on Friday, Health Minister Michelle O'Byrne said the changes laid out in her private members Bill would allow all Tasmanian women access to services that are readily available to those with means.
The proposed legislation is almost exactly that which was introduced in Victoria in 2008.
It is laughable to even call it a reform.
The legislation it would replace is antiquated: the description of the crime of abortion is drawn from the United Kingdom's Offences Against the Person Act of 1861.
Opposition health spokesman Jeremy Rockliff said the proposed Reproductive Health Bill was a distraction, a view that has been echoed in the opinion pages of this newspaper.
That is as wrong as it is insulting.
This is not a political distraction, it is a simple decision to either create a legislative environment in which doctors feel comfortable performing a commonplace surgical procedure, or not.
Ms O'Byrne is not calling to re- open the debate about a women's right to choose, but that's probably what she will get.
That battle has been fought and won.
The debate in 2001 to amend the Criminal Code to allow some abortions was led by women on all sides of politics.
A survey commissioned by Family Planning Tasmania last year found that 86 per cent of respondents thought that abortion was a decision made between a woman and her doctor, and 79 per cent felt that a woman ought to have the legal right to make her own choice.
Even the concern expressed by some of allowing unqualified access to terminations up to 24-weeks gestation should not change that.
As it stands, there is no legal limit in Tasmania to the period in which women can access an abortion. The 12-week window is imposed by practice, not law.
Women could already delay their decision until after seeing 20-week foetal scans, but most don't.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 94.6 per cent of terminations occur in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy.
Less than 0.7 per cent occur after 20 weeks.
Decriminalising abortion will not increase the number of pregnancies that are terminated, or change a decision that has always been based on individual circumstance.
But it will reduce the stigma, trauma and expense.
That abortion is a personal decision about which most people have deeply-held views is reflected in the fact that all sides of politics will allow a conscience vote when the Bill goes before Parliament later this year.
How many politicians will use their free choice to give Tasmanian women theirs?