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Australia’s national abortion care provider calls on South Australia to amend its proposed bill to decriminalise abortion.

Sigrid Firth Abortion, Advocacy, Equity and access, Media

MEDIA STATEMENT

FRIDAY 16 OCTOBER

Australia’s national abortion care provider calls on South Australia to amend its proposed bill to decriminalise abortion.

Marie Stopes welcomes South Australia’s next step towards decriminalising abortion which will  bring it more in line with the rest of Australia.

However, the Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2020 tabled for a first reading in Parliament last Wednesday enshrines a nine week gestational limit in law for medical abortion, when Marie Stopes Australia says should be left to the practicing doctor following clinical guidelines.

Marie Stopes is calling on South Australia to remove gestational limits for medical abortion before the Bill is passed in 2021 because this limit will be outdated in the next few years.

Already, distributor, MS Health, is working with the Therapeutic Goods Authority (TGA) to safely extend the use of the medical abortion drugs up to 10 weeks gestation based on the evidence of safe medical practice[i].

The United States Food and Drug Administration extended the use of the medical abortion drugs to 10 weeks in 2016.

Managing Director, Jamal Hakim says “abortion is essential healthcare, it has no place in the criminal code.”

He says, “when medical abortion via telehealth is legal, safe and supported in every other state and territory, it becomes questionable as to why current legislation in South Australia discriminates against patient autonomy.”

The proposed bill also sets different gestational limits for surgical abortion at 22 weeks with the approval of one doctor, and beyond 22 weeks with a second doctor’s approval.

Marie Stopes is further calling for an increase in surgical abortion gestational limits to 24 weeks with a single doctor’s approval.

“We look forward to working with politicians across the parties to remove these unnecessary gestational limits in support of this important legislation,” says Mr Hakim.

Marie Stopes Australia is committed to working with key local stakeholders, including the South Australian Abortion Action Coalition (saaac).

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For further information or to interview Jamal Hakim contact, Marie Stopes Australia, 0428 396 391

Background:

Delivery of medical abortion via telehealth is a safe, acceptable and effective method of abortion access in Australia[ii]. Nurses and doctors provide clinical care, medication is delivered via courier, and patients have 24-7 access to after care. In terms of patient privacy, telehealth can provide similar or superior levels of discretion in healthcare provision.

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Marie Stopes Australia is a national not for profit provider of sexual and reproductive health services including permanent and long-acting reversible contraception and abortion care. For more information on our clinic network visit mariestopes.org.au

[i] Marie Stopes Australia (2020), ‘Situational Report: Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights in Australia’ at https://resources.mariestopes.org.au/SRHRinAustralia.pdf.

[ii] Fix, l., Seymour, J., Sandhu, M.V., Melville, C., Mazza, D., Thompson, T., ‘At-home telemedicine for medical abortion in Australia: a qualitative study of patient experiences and recommendations’ BMJ Sex Reprod Health 2020; 0:1–6. doi:10.1136/bmjsrh-2020-200612; and

Mazza, D., Seema, D., Subasinghe, A., (2020), ‘Telehealth: an opportunity to increase access to early medical abortion for Australian women’, Med J Aust || doi: 10.5694/mja2.50782.