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Let's Talk About Sexual & Reproductive Health BLOG

  • Writer's pictureClinic 66

"ALL IN" for International Safe Abortion Day!

We're doing our bit to respect, protect and support some of Australia's most vulnerable women this International Safe Abortion Day. Will you join us?

It's hard to believe that it has been 12 months since we participated in the last annual (28th Sept) International Safe Abortion Day! And with Covid taking the lions share of the world's attention, unfortunately the safe abortion movement has taken a bit of a beating in many other countries... but thankfully, not so in Australia.

Last year, we asked our followers to join us and the Sphere petition, to urge the federal government to bring back Medicare support for women's telealth... and in particular, early medical abortion by telehealth (aka 'TeleAbortion' or 'Abortion Online').

The good news is that sanity has prevailed and back in July, the government did bring back the Medicare rebatable MBS items for many women's sexual and reproductive telehealth consultations including medical abortion. But unfortunately, only till December 1 at this stage.

This has been life changing for many of the women we support via our Abortion Online service, as we've been able to provide a mixture of both bulk billed and rebated consultations, which has made safe medical abortion by telehealth much more 'financially' accessible as well as 'physically' accessible.

Our Tele-Abortion (medical abortion by telehealth) process includes three separate telehealth consultations with one of our specialised women's telehealth GPs, and each client is also supported by a rather rigorous and challenging administration process. Both of these are necessary to ensure (as much as possible), the safety of the women choosing to undergo the procedure.

It's a process that takes time, is exacting, needs to be actioned quickly, and corners cannot be cut. And therefore, it's a service that is a long way from being profitable - In fact, it's expensive to run.

"But women who can't access an abortion clinic, or can't afford the procedure need help right now," says Clinic 66 Director, Dr. Emma Boulton. "With large international, government supported organisations like Marie Stopes closing down some of their regional clinics, I felt compelled to step up. Somebody has to do it - If not us then who?" she said.

Toward this end, Dr Boulton has now established a 'not for profit' charitable organisation called 'Nowsis' to operate this important service. It is her aim to attract both institutional and individual funding that will enable her and her team to provide medical abortion as well as other important women's health services to our most vulnerable women in Australia. But for now, the Medicare support does help to sustain it.

"Unlike other organisations currently delivering medical abortions in Australia, we've decided to pass on the Medicare support by bulk billing both the first and last consultations, along with the medicare rebated second consultation - resulting in a total cost (with Medicare cover) of $195 + approximately $40 for the medications ($12 with a healthcare card). At this pricepoint, safe and professionally supervised medical abortion is within the reach of most," said Dr Boulton.

What we need today is to encourage more signatures supporting the ongoing sphere campaign to continue the Medicare cover post December 1. Even though Australia will be more open again, there will still be many women who need this service. Click here to add your name to the campaign.

And in the longer term, we need additional financial support for Nowsis to enable us to keep delivering the high level of professional service that we are providing now. We're stretched to capacity and really need more doctors, nurses and administrators on board, so that we don't have to turn anyone away.

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