A new nationwide Tele-Abortion service has just been launched at www.abortiononline.com.au, in answer to the major gap in professional abortion service accessibility right across Australia.
Abortion Online is an initiative of Dr Emma Boulton, the Founder and Director of Clinic 66, which is a private ‘one-stop’ sexual and reproductive health clinic based in Sydney. Emma and her specialist team have been providing safe and professional medical and surgical abortions from the clinic for over 20 years.
With an aim to step up and fill the gap created when the Tabbot Foundation shut down earlier this year, Dr Boulton has recently completed a trial Tele-Abortion service run by a select team within the clinic. “Having tested and tweaked our tele-abortion service over the past few months, we have now launched nationwide under our AbortionOnline.com.au brand, and women across Australia can access our tele-abortion service via the AbortionOnline.com.au website, except South Australia, where unfortunately tele-abortion is illegal,” said Dr Boulton.
Decriminalising abortion in NSW is great news, but it will likely be some time before we see the benefits of the change, particularly for women living in rural and regional areas right across NSW and nationally. These women are forced to travel long distances to access safe and professional abortion care, and often this means that they still don’t have access.
Dr Boulton believes that the expansion of access to medical abortion by Telehealth (Tele-abortion) has a major part to play in helping Australian women access services, whilst also giving Australian GPs a reputable alternative to refer their patients.
According to Emma, “medical abortion via telehealth is likely to become the preferred option for Australian women and all over the world, finally giving them autonomy over their own bodies by removing the need for them to visit health care providers face to face.”
Home-based medical abortion is intended to simplify the medical abortion regimen while providing best medical practice. Self-administration is common in many countries around the world, and medical abortion has been used by millions of women since it was approved in 1988.
Why is Tele-abortion the answer?
Medical abortion by tele-health aka ‘tele-abortion’ is a safe and effective option for early stage (under 9 weeks gestation) pregnancy termination. There is overwhelming evidence to support its efficacy, though in approximately 5 % of cases it is not straightforward. “This is why we have strict suitability testing, and professional consultation and care both before and after the procedure is imperative, to ensure both the immediate and long term health of our client,” says Emma.
Tele-abortion is particularly suitable for women who cannot access face to face abortion care in their local community. Our tele-abortion clients meet with highly skilled and experienced abortion care providers remotely by phone and/or video consultation. Our consultants personally and professionally guide them through a thorough, quality assured process to complete the abortion. If, following careful testing, the client is deemed suitable for tele-abortion, they can undergo the procedure in the privacy of their own home, without having to attend a clinic.
“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,” says Dr Boulton. “Abortion is a straightforward medical intervention, ideally delivered in a community setting. It is a normal part of healthcare and it is a basic human right to have access to health care services – women deserve the right to determine what happens to their own bodies.”
“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 telehealth allows for some levelling of those variations – Technology enables us to do this” she said.
Who provides this service?
Expert clinicians who are highly experienced in all aspects of abortion care will run the service from the Clinic 66 Clinic in Sydney and it is supported by a 24×7 emergency helpline run by MSHealth (distributors of the medication). Women undergoing tele-abortion will be supported by expert abortion care health professionals who will guide and support them every step of the way to ensure that they get a safe outcome.
Where is it available, and who is eligible?
Medical abortion by telehealth is available to Australian women in the comfort and privacy of their own homes and communities, except in South Australia where by law, abortion care must be delivered in hospitals.
Our clients do need to meet strict suitability criteria, such as being under 9 weeks gestation at the time of taking the medication, being over 16 years old and within a two-hour drive of emergency care (to name just a few).
Unfortunately, there is no Medicare or health insurance rebate for this service. The Tele-abortion consultations will cost $395 in 2 instalments. This fee covers the entire medical abortion process which includes three online consultations, but does not include the cost of investigations such as blood tests, ultrasound or the medication.