Barriers to abortion access in Australia before and during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Access to abortion in Australian has been the subject of significant legal reforms to the point that in some jurisdictions, most legal barriers to access have been dismantled. Nevertheless, research reveals that many Australian women will not be in a position to fully realise their reproductive rights until the non-legal barriers to access are adequately addressed. Between March 2017 and November 2020, the authors conducted qualitative research into the barriers faced by Australian women when accessing, or attempting to access, abortion services. Three of the primary non-legal barriers to access raised repeatedly in our research are financial barriers to access, geographic barriers to access; and deficiencies in practitioner attitudes, education and training. Part I of this article focuses on these barriers to abortion access while Part II considers the significant new challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic for women's access to reproductive health services. The paper concludes that the pandemic and the measures introduced in response have amplified pre-existing barriers and generated a disproportionate and intersectional impact on the most marginalised and disempowered women in society.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102470
Number of pages9
JournalWomen's Studies International Forum
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Abortion
  • Access
  • Australia
  • Barriers
  • Coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Healthcare
  • Intersectionality

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