Abortions now available via telephone

Debate has erupted after it was announced women would be able to access medical abortions without visiting a doctor or pharmacist with the launch of a new telephone service.

The Tabbot Foundation will assess pregnant women via a phone call and then post them the necessary medications. 

Blood tests and ultrasounds at local clinics will be required though.

Reproductive Choice Australia says the service will reduce costs faced by many women as well as allowing those in regional areas to more easily receive treatment.

“Medical pregnancy termination through teleconference is one of the most appropriate medical conditions you can use this for because you don’t have to examine the patient,” a Tabbot Foundation spokesperson told smh.com.au.

“It will also mean women who might have felt intimidated going into an abortion clinic don’t have to.”

As part of the service, women would call the toll-free number –1800 180 880 – and be referred to local clinics to ensure the pregnancy was suitable.

The doctor would get the results to use in a phone consultation.

In states where a psychological assessment is required, this would also be done over the phone.

If the abortion is approved,  a package including the medications mifepristone and misoprostol (commonly known as RU486), prophylactic antibiotics, painkillers and anti-nausea drugs would be mailed out, at a cost of $250.

Those who use the service will receive a follow up call by a nurse and will be able to access a 24 hour help line.

While the medications are considered safe, in 2010 a woman died after taking RU486 and developing an infection.

The Tabbot Foundation spokesman told smh.com.au that this remained a risk if the body did not fully expel the embryo and other pregnancy tissue, and she did not receive ongoing medical care.

While advocates say the service could improve access to pregnancy termination, those against the idea say any medical procedure – including abortions – should require a face to face consultation in order to reduce physical and psychological complications.

The service will only be offered for pregnancies of fewer than 63 days.


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