Despite progressive law reform, access to abortion in Australia remains patchy. Significant out-of-pocket costs, poor regional access and a shortage of providers discriminate against those who are already disadvantaged.
Dr Erica Millar is leading the first in-depth examination of the key institutions that regulate abortion provision including the law, government, medical education and training, and health care.
“Current research on barriers to abortion access tends to focus on the law or the challenges faced by individual providers,” explains Dr Millar. “Institutions of abortion provision are under-researched and poorly understood.”
Millar’s study examines how institutional norms, practices and policies form barriers to abortion access.
“We will investigate the nature and extent of ingrained abortion stigma within institutions of abortion provision, and their influence in creating barriers to access,” says Millar. “The study will span the provision of abortion in public hospitals, the training of Australian medical professionals in abortion care, and the contemporary legal and policy norms of abortion.”
Millar hopes that by working with institutional insiders, her research will identify policy and institutional recommendations, as well as evidence-based arguments for their implementation.
“Abortion is the most commonly performed gynaecological procedure in Australia, but it is not systemically integrated into health care delivery or training,” adds Millar.
“My research aims to challenge and overcome abortion exceptionalism and stigma so that health care delivery meets the expectations and needs of the community.