News

Australian women may get phone access to abortion pill

MEDICAL abortion may now be just a few phone calls away, with Australian women able to order the abortion pill to their door.

An Australian group called The Tabbot Foundation has launched an Australia-wide telephone consultation home medical termination of pregnancy service.

On dialling, a referral for an ultrasound and pathology test is arranged, followed by a phone consultation with a doctor and clinical psychologist.

If a medical termination is deemed appropriate, a plan will be devised and all medications will be expressed mailed by the foundation.

The abortion pill, Mifepristone or RU486, costs $250 with a Medicare card and can be used by women who are up to nine weeks pregnant.

It has been available in several countries for more than a decade but was restricted for use in Australia until July 2013, when the drug was listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

"Mifepristone has been safely used by millions of women in more than 50 countries who have had access to it for several years," the foundation says on its website.

"It is a safer, less invasive procedure than the alternatives not just because it can be performed much earlier than surgical abortions, but because it can be done safely in the privacy of a woman's home without surgical intervention."

The Tabbott Foundation also said access to medical terminations by telemedicine was particularly important to women living in rural and regional Australia.

"These women have to travel long distances or indeed travel interstate to undergo surgery or not had the option of surgery at all."

According to The NSW Crimes Act 1900, unlawfully procuring an abortion is an offence punishable by imprisonment for up to ten years, and unlawfully supplying "any drug or noxious thing, or any instrument or thing whatsoever" for the purpose of procuring an abortion is punishable by imprisonment for up to five years.

A decision made in the NSW District Court in 1971 ruled an abortion was only lawful if the woman's doctor believed on reasonable grounds it was necessary to avoid a serious danger to her life or her physical or mental health.

The mental health criteria has since been interpreted to include "the effects of economic or social stress that may pertain either during pregnancy or after birth". Women are not entitled to abortion on demand.

For more information on abortion, phone the Family Planning NSW Talkline on 1300 658 886 or go to http://www.fpnsw.org.au/talkline.

Topics:  abortion, family planning, pregnancy



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