Abortion is no doubt a polarizing topic and it has once again come into the spotlight with the Medical Journal of Australia publishing a piece criticizing the country's disparate abortion laws across different states.
Yes, abortion is legal in Australia. But depending on which state you live in, certain conditions must be met before the procedure can be authorized.
Scores of women are flying into Victoria to have late-term abortions each year because of prohibitive laws in other states and territories. The demand for the controversial procedure is so great in Melbourne that the main service is flying doctors in from South Australia because there is a shortage of doctors trained and willing to do it in Victoria.
They say Australia's "patchwork" of abortion legislation is forcing women to travel interstate or internationally to end a pregnancy. Professor Heather Douglas and Professor Caroline de Costa said current national abortion laws are failing too many women.
Marie Stopes International, the only private organization that provides terminations for women 20-24 weeks pregnant in Victoria, said about 46 percent of these procedures were done for interstate women.
Australian CEO of Marie Stopes International Alexis Apostolellis said all Australian women deserved to have equal access to sexual and reproductive health, regardless of which state they live in. "We would welcome a national approach toward improving access to this critical health service," he said.
Experts estimate 80,000 women have abortions in Australia each year, meaning about one in four pregnancies are terminated.
The Australian Capital Territory is the most liberal state when it comes to abortion laws, in the fact that there are no laws that deem it to be illegal. It does, however, require that a registered medical practitioner perform the procedure.