If abortion is decriminalised in Queensland, the proportion of abortions done by public hospitals would increase from 2% to “20 to 25%”, according to evidence earlier this month from a medical expert to the parliamentary inquiry into abortion laws.
The report of the Health Committee inquiry will be tabled in State Parliament on Tuesday.
Dr Carol Portmann, former director of maternal and foetal medicine at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, who now performs abortions up to 20 weeks as part of her private gynaecology practice, said Queensland Health would have to support public hospitals to cater for this increase in demand.
Currently, Queensland public hospitals only perform “therapeutic terminations” (which meet the current judicial interpretation of the law that for an abortion to be legal there must be a serious danger to the woman’s physical or mental health), while 16 private clinics perform the other 98% of abortions which are mainly for financial or social reasons.
This would mean that the number of abortions done in the public hospital system would rise from 295 (out of about 14,000 done in Queensland each year) to more like 3,000 – a 10 times increase.
Dr Portmann said the current “health culture” in Queensland public hospitals would make it difficult to find medical and nursing staff who would be “happy to be involved on a regular basis” in meeting the demand for more abortions.
She said that over time “a significant cultural shift” would occur so that abortion would be considered “part of routine medical care”.
Cherish Life Queensland president Julie Borger said this would corrupt the public hospital system and put great pressure on pro-life doctors and nurses to participate in abortions against their conscience.
She said the pro-abortion lobby also gave evidence to the inquiry that decriminalisation would not increase the number of abortions, yet at the same time claimed that some women had not been able to get access to an abortion because of remoteness from an abortion clinic or lack of money.
“They cannot have it both ways. Obviously, if these women who allegedly cannot access abortion under the current law would be able to obtain it under a decriminalisation regime, then numbers must increase.
“More abortions would hurt more women. With every abortion, the toll is one dead, one wounded.
“We need to look for better ways to support families and not go for the ‘quick-fix’ of abandoning women to abortion and all its harmful consequences.”