The Australian Government is looking into a service launched this week that allows women to be prescribed abortion pills over the phone.
Private pro-abortion group, the Tabbot Foundation, announced that women would be able to arrange a medical abortion simply through a phone call, without seeing a doctor face-to-face.
As part of the service, the RU486 pill is delivered to the woman’s door following an ultrasound – usually performed by a sonographer – and blood tests carried out by nurses.
Health and wellbeing
But the federal Department of Health is looking into whether the service should be allowed to continue.
A spokesman told the Guardian Australia that the department is “considering the implications” for the health and wellbeing of women in the context of telephone consultations.
She also said they are examining the “authority required by prescribers” to offer the abortion drugs under the Government’s subsidised drugs scheme and the guidelines for dispensing pharmaceuticals by post.
The service is not available in South Australia or the Northern Territory because of their abortion laws.
The Tabbot Foundation claims that ‘telemedicine’ – prescribing drugs over the phone – is frequently used in the country.
In England and Wales, it was revealed last year that guidance had been issued to clinics saying that doctors do not need to see women before approving abortions.
The new rules effectively bypassed Parliament and were intended to address the problems of doctors pre-signing forms and sex-selection abortions.
However, the guidance simply relaxed abortion procedures.