The semi-retired Nedlands resident, who works once a week at abortion clinic Marie Stopes International in Midland, said the State Government needed to ‘take charge’ and launch an enquiry into the current system.
‘The two private clinics (Marie Stopes International and Nanyara in Rivervale) are providing an excellent service, but there are some women who need more support and are slipping through the cracks,’ Dr Cohen said.
‘Paying to have a termination should not mean a woman has to sacrifice buying groceries that month.’
Dr Cohen said he worked with Labor MP Cheryl Davenport to decriminalise abortion in 1998.
A report by the Western Suburbs Weekly last month highlighted that Ms Davenport wanted more done to improve access to terminations.
‘Although the law was passed and abortion is legal in the state up to 20 weeks, there are serious issues that the Health Department has been ignoring,’ Dr Cohen said.
‘No one has been jumping up and down about it so they just assume the situation is fine and say: ‘It’s all being dealt with in the private sector’.
‘One in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime, and it’s the government’s responsibility to look at how they can achieve that in such a way that it’s not such a financial impost.’
A termination in WA can cost between $730 for up to 12 weeks gestation and $3,600 at 19 weeks.
A spokeswoman for Health Minister Kim Hames said the State Government had not conducted an enquiry into the system since abortion was decriminalised in 1998 and did not have any future plans to investigate the cost and accessibility of abortions.
Dr Cohen said women could be referred to the KEMH Social Work Department and request financial support, however he had concerns about how their eligibility was determined.
‘Would the cost need to be financially crippling before the government stepped in?’ he said.
‘If they are not going to be done through the public system where it could be free, or more affordable, then the Health Department needs to decide how these clients can be helped before they are sent to be assessed by social workers.’
A North Metropolitan Health Service spokeswoman said the KEMH Social Work Department assessed women based on a range of factors ‘in the context of her unique situation’, including her financial recourses.
‘On rare occasions, usually related to the gestation of the pregnancy and the requirements of the legislation, a woman may not be eligible; (however) these situations are uncommon.’