Australia: Tabbot Foundation provides first 1,000 safe abortions by phone and doctors call for country GPs to be ‘one-stop shop’ abortion providers

Tabbot Foundation: first 1,000 abortions safely provided by phoneThe Tabbot Foundation safely provided their first 1,000 medical abortions through their telephone abortion service on 9 August, just 300 days after their launch.SOURCE: E-mail from Paul Hyland, Medical Director, Tabbot Foundation, 10 August 2016HISTORY: 1 July 2016***Doctors call for country GPs to be ‘one-stop shop’ abortion providersAccess to medical abortion pills is limited in Australia by the fact that relatively few general practitioners (GPs) offer the service, and some young women, particularly in rural areas, are still not even aware they may use the pills instead of having a surgical abortion.This conclusion is based on in-depth interviews conducted in 2015 in the state of Victoria with 15 key informants (mainly women health professionals providing abortion services – GPs, nurses, psychologists, gynaecologists and specialist counsellors). They were directly providing or working within a service offering medical abortion, in 10 of which vacuum aspiration abortion was also offered. The study points to an “unrealised potential” to improve access to abortion services in Australia and identifies the need to:

  • promote the availability of medical abortion;
  • address misconceptions about the method; and
  • increase GP involvement in the provision of medical abortion.

It paints a picture of small town GPs wary of stigma, and of women cobbling together information about their options through web searches and the recommendations of friends and family.Of the estimated 30,000 GPs and gynaecologists working in Australia, only 1,244 doctors have become certified medical abortion prescribers, less than 5%. Moreover, few pharmacies dispense the pills, only 2,715 out of about 29,000 pharmacists, less than 10%. Finally, the medical option is available only up to the 9th week of pregnancy, while surgical is available much later.A nurse at a regional GP clinic said: “I personally believe that medical termination should be done in almost all cases, for the under nine weeks, in the general practice setting.”A manager at a metro hospital said: “What’s so important about GPs is providing it in their regions. Women don’t want to have to go too far away … it needs to be a one-stop shop in their own community.”SOURCES:, by James Purtill, 28 August 2016 ; VISUAL+ How do women seeking abortion choose between surgical and medical abortion? Perspectives from abortion service providers, by Danielle Newton et al. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 17 August 2016.