Online Abortions Made Available To More Australian Women
Women now have another avenue for accessing medical abortions, with the launch of a new online and over-the-phone service.
Launched on Wednesday, Abortion Online will expand access to early-stage abortion for women living in remote and rural areas, while also giving GPs another alternative to offer their patients.
Dr Emma Boulton, the founder of Sydney-based sexual and reproductive health clinic Clinic 66, launched the alternative to help more Australian women.
"Though abortion has finally been decriminalised in NSW, there is a long way to go in order to provide women all across Australia with comprehensive abortion care," Dr Boulton said.
"In Australia, there is a great deal of variation in the legal status of abortion between the states, so access to basic health care services such as abortion becomes a postcode lottery.
"Medical abortion by tele-health allows for some levelling of those variations -- technology enables us to do this."
Tele-abortion is designed for women who cannot access face-to-face abortion care in a brick and mortar clinic.
The service is available in all states except South Australia, where tele-abortion remains outlawed.
Using Abortion Online, women are able to meet with care providers remotely, either by phone or online video consultation.
From there, a patient's blood test and ultrasound must be done locally to ensure eligibility.
Medical abortion is a non-surgical procedure where pregnancy is terminated using the drug mifepristone, better known as RU486, before nine weeks gestation (two months pregnant).
If the patient is approved for treatment following a second remote consultation, the medication is sent to their local pharmacy for pick up.
From there the patient can administer the medication in the privacy of their own home.
While there is no need to visit an abortion clinic, to be eligible women must live within two hours' distance from a hospital, in case there are complications with their treatment.
Clinic 66 charges $395 for its tele-abortion service plus the costs of required tests. The service is not covered by Medicare.
The clinic isn't the only one to offer tele-abortions in Australia.
Abortion Online was created to "step up and fill the gap" that opened up when the Tabbot Foundation closed down earlier this year.
Established in 2015, the Tabbot Foundation is understood to have provided thousands of women access to medical abortions over-the-phone.
An independent review of the first 1000 women to use the Tabbot Foundation found it was a safe and effective way of terminating pregnancies and was comparable to the offering of face-to-face clinics, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report.
"Medical abortion via telehealth is likely to become the preferred option for Australian women and all over the world," Dr Boulton said.