Australia’s Minister for Health, Tony Abbott, will present a $60-million package to cabinet today, which would allow women with unplanned pregnancies to seek counseling from trained professionals.
The plan’s measures would allow women with unplanned pregnancies to seek optional counseling from trained professionals under a Medicare rebate. The women would be referred to psychologists, doctors of nurses with psychology training by their general practitioners. It also includes a proposal for a 24-hour national telephone service for pregnancy counseling, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.
Church groups have expressed an interest in offering such services under the plan. Many already run pregnancy support services and say that, although their views on abortion are well known, their counseling services canvass all options.
Abbott said he does not have a problem with church groups expressing their interest. He said he has “a great deal of confidence” in church groups to deliver professional health services, which they currently offer with a “Christian ethos of love and compassion.” But he did not commit to including them in the plan.
Catholic Welfare Australia executive director, Frank Quinlan, agrees there is a need for the new plan, but says more counseling services are needed to help women with unplanned or unwanted pregnancies make decisions about their future and to help women after they had abortions.