Terms of reference
On 18 June 2008, a motion was moved in the Senate by Senator Guy Barnett
to disallow item 16525 in Part 3 of Schedule 1 to the Health Insurance (General
Medical Services Table) Regulations 2007. On 16 September 2008, the Senate passed the following resolution:
1. That the subject of the motion for disallowance
of item 16525 in Part 3 of Schedule 1 to the Health Insurance (General Medical
Services Table) Regulations 2007 be referred to the Finance and Public Administration
Committee for inquiry and report on and not before 13 November 2008.
2. That the committee in particular report on:
(a) the terms of item 16525
of part 3 of Schedule 1 to the Health Insurance (General Medical Services
Table) Regulations 2007;
(b) the number of services
receiving payments under this item and the cost of these payments;
(c) the basis upon which
payments of benefits are made under this item; and
(d) the effects of
disallowing this item.
Following referral of the inquiry to the committee, the motion to
disallow item 16525 was withdrawn by Senator Barnett on 17 September 2008.
Conduct of the inquiry
The inquiry was advertised in The Australian and through the
Internet. The committee invited submissions from the Commonwealth Government
and interested organisations and individuals.
The committee received 484 public and 45 confidential
submissions. A list of individuals and organisations that made public
submissions to the inquiry together with other information authorised for
publication is at Appendix 1. The committee held two days of hearings in Canberra
on 29 and 30 October 2008. Appendix 2 lists the names and organisations of
those who appeared. Submissions and the Hansard transcript of evidence may be
accessed through the committee's website at https://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/fapa_ctte/index.htm.
Use of terms in evidence
During the inquiry, the committee found that the terms 'abortion',
'termination' and 'late term termination' were used in different contexts and
had different meanings for some witnesses. The Department of Health and Ageing
in its submission used both the terms 'abortion' and 'termination': it stated
that services under item 16525 'relate to both spontaneous abortion
(miscarriage) and medical or induced abortion (termination)'.
Some witnesses also used both the terms 'abortion' and 'termination' to refer
to the cessation of a pregnancy as a result of either a spontaneous event or an
induced event. However, the committee is mindful that many in the community use
the term 'abortion', as some witnesses did, only in relation to an induced
In this report, the terms have been used interchangeably without any
implied meaning as to whether an induced or spontaneous event has occurred.
Item 16525 is used for procedures during the second trimester of
pregnancy. The second trimester is generally considered to range from 13 to 26
In evidence, many witnesses used the term 'late term termination' which the
committee notes is generally understood to apply to terminations after 20 weeks
The committee notes that a significant preponderance of evidence
supporting disallowance related to terminations occurring in the latter half of
the second trimester. While it is not possible to ascertain the exact numbers
of procedures claimed under this item number that occur before or after 20
weeks gestation, the committee also notes that the evidence indicates that the
majority of such claims occur before the 20 week mark, this is, in the first
half of the second trimester.
The committee thanks those organisations and individuals who made
submissions and gave evidence at the public hearing.
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