Page 781 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 21 March 2018
Evidence has shown that medical abortion provides a safe, accessible and private means of terminating an early pregnancy with medication. Medical abortions are prescribed in most other states and territories by licensed medical practitioners, including GPs and nurses. People can have a professional consultation by phone without the need to visit a clinic. Medical abortions involve the use of mifepristone and misoprostol, commonly known as RU486. These drugs, prescribed by a licensed medical professional, can be taken at home, as with other prescription drugs.
Medical abortions are as safe as surgical abortions. Medical abortions can have significant advantages for pregnant people. The first is privacy. Many pregnant people will not want to tell their family and friends about their situation. Being able to go to their local GP or have a medical consultation over the phone makes that a lot easier than going to the Marie Stopes clinic.
It also possibly makes it a lot more accessible to someone who, particularly if they unexpectedly find themselves pregnant, can talk to their normal medical practitioner, someone who knows them better, about what the best options are for them in the circumstances they find themselves in, rather than going to a clinic where they are probably not a continuing patient.
The second advantage, of course, is convenience. For the reasons I have already mentioned, it could be a lot more convenient to have a medical abortion. The third advantage is cost. A medical termination is usually a few hundred dollars cheaper than a surgical abortion. Of course, there is the possibility that if medical abortions become available through a wider range of providers, there may be some positive impact on pricing.
I cannot help but be struck time and again by the fact that if a pregnant person is prevented from accessing an abortion due to the cost of the procedure, how can we, as a society, possibly expect them to have the financial capability to raise a child or possibly support the other children they may already have? This is a heartbreaking situation where, for financial reasons, some women are unable to access an abortion that they need and want.
I heard a particular story recently about a young Canberran woman who had to save every dollar she had over the six weeks’ time frame she had in which an abortion was possible. She walked many kilometres each day to work to save the bus fare. She lived on instant noodles because she knew that she absolutely had to have that abortion. It was an unplanned pregnancy and she simply could not support the child. I hope that allowing access to medical abortion will be a first step in improving the affordability of abortion in the ACT.
I am confident that the broader Canberra community is in agreement with the rights of all people to control their own bodies and to make their own reproductive decisions in the best interests of their own wellbeing and that of their families. People are basically the experts in their own personal circumstances.