The Tasmanian government could lose its first vote in parliament if speaker Sue Hickey sides with Labor on providing abortions in public hospitals.
Labor leader Rebecca White will on Wednesday move a motion directing Health Minister Michael Ferguson to provide pregnancy terminations in the public hospital system by July 1.
A spokesman for Ms Hickey said she would wait until hearing debate before deciding whether to support Labor’s motion.
“She has an open mind,” the spokesman said.
Ms White said it had been six months since the last clinic providing terminations had closed and women were being forced to fly interstate to access an abortion.
“The cost of sending women to Victoria is not just calculated in the financial impact - it’s actually an emotional toll that’s being taken on Tasmanian women who are being forced to fly interstate.
“Imagine sitting next to someone on the plane and they ask you ‘so what are you going to Melbourne for’, what’s your response going to be?
“As many as 10 women a week are flying to Melbourne to access a service that should be available here.”
Ms White said the government had had enough time to find a solution.
“It shouldn’t have come to a vote in the parliament to compel the government to do something,” she said.
“Tasmania has some of the best laws in the country when it comes to accessing terminations and some of the worst access.
“We have an opportunity as a parliament to provide better access for Tasmanian women and that’s why we’ll be moving this motion for debate tomorrow.”
Labor is hopeful Ms Hickey will support the motion.
Ms White said: “I know that the Speaker is an avid supporter of women’s health issues and I know that tomorrow will be a very interesting test of the government particularly the Premier as to whether or not he has listened to Tasmanian women who have been telling him clearly that the current situation is unacceptable.”
She said all Labor MPs supported the motion.
As well as directing Mr Ferguson to provide terminations in public hospitals it also directs him to report back to the parliament on July 3.
Mr Ferguson described the motion as “a political stunt.”
He said an interstate provider had expressed interest in establishing a local service and the department was working through the licensing and regulatory process.
“We understand that the confirmation of this service is currently subject to commercial negotiations and that these discussions are progressing,” he said.
The Legislative Council on Tuesday voted 10 to four to support a motion from Murchison Independent Ruth Forrest calling on Mr Ferguson to ensure all women have equitable access to termination of pregnancy services in public hospitals.
The Australian Christian Lobby says moves for parliamentarians to vote on motions requiring abortions to be mainstreamed in public hospital system were premature.
Lobby Tasmanian director Mark Brown said a prayer vigil would be held on the Tasmanian parliament lawns at 1pm Wednesday June 13 to highlight community concerns and offer prayers for parliamentarians, mothers and babies.
“There is no way these motions should be voted on without some form of public consultation. MPs are essentially voting blind,” Mr Brown said.