Complicated abortion laws will drive women to buy pills online in Australia

A review of a journal article published on 28 September 2016 points out that women in Australia face serious barriers to safe, affordable abortions with medical abortion pills, while the pills for a home abortion are easy to find on Facebook.The journal article, written by Lecturer in the Department of Business Law and Taxation Anne O’Rourke at Monash University, Senior Research Fellow Dr Suzanne Belton at the Graduate School of Health Practice of Charles Darwin University, and Research Associate Ea Mulligan at Flinders University Law School, was published online in the Journal of Law and Medicine 2016;24(October). It argues that because every state and territory of Australia has different, complicated abortion laws, and because the Federal Government has bogged down abortion drugs in red tape, many doctors are reluctant to provide medical abortion pills.The abstract of the article says: “the negligible medical risks associated with mifepristone do not justify the restrictive regulatory measures imposed on medical practitioners”. The abstract says the article examines whether there are legal risks to providing medical abortion and “considers whether medical practitioners are vulnerable to prosecution under existing State and Territory laws”. They find that in a number of jurisdictions the situation is “legally ambiguous”. They say “the need for law reform is evident by the fact that in four jurisdictions it remains in the criminal statutes, creating legal uncertainty for both medical practitioners and women”. They call for “some ‘demedicalisation’ of medical abortion… if the legal status of abortion in State and Territory laws is addressed”.The article was released on 28 September 2016 to mark International Safe Abortion Day.The article’s authors say: “Restrictive abortion laws will become redundant as women grow increasingly impatient with the access barriers placed in their way.”The review article states: “In 2013, [mifepristone] was listed at just $12 on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. However, since then, access has become bogged down by processes that do not apply to other drugs, such as doctors needing permission for each prescription, and the price is generally hundreds of dollars.”In an article in August 2016, it was reported that in 2013 only 1,244 doctors had become certified prescribers of medical abortion, out of the estimated 30,000 GPs and gynaecologists working in Australia. Moreover, data from MS Health, which trains health professionals in how to use the medications, also shows there were only 2,715 dispensers out of about 29,000 pharmacists in Australia. In recent interviews with 19 health professionals providing abortion services in the state of Victoria, all of them thought doctors should consider prescribing medical abortion pills to increase access, particularly for women living outside of big cities.ABSTRACT, Medical Abortion in Australia: What Are the Clinical and Legal Risks? Is Medical Abortion Over-regulated?” by Anne O’Rourke, Suzanne Belton and Ea MulliganREVIEW ARTICLE, by Tory Shepherd, 27 September 2016 + ARTICLE in The Age, by Julia Medew + PHOTO by Eddie Jim, 16 August 2016