Providing access to safe, early pregnancy termination services for women living in regional and rural areas of Australia has historically been a difficult task, with many women having to travel long distances at great expense to visit a clinic.
Now tele-abortion, or medical abortion via teleconsultation, is available to women living in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania.
This means that women in early pregnancy can access a safe and affordable non-surgical abortion without having to travel to a clinic.
Tele-abortion improves access and affordability for women in rural areas and for those who prefer to not attend a clinic.
Marie Stopes Australia has been offering the teleconsultation service since November 2015, providing women who do not live near a clinic, and for whom the cost of travelling for an abortion is prohibitive, with the option of a medical abortion via video (tele) consultation.
So, how does a medical abortion via teleconsultation with Marie Stopes work?
To be eligible for the service you must:
- Be no more than 8 weeks pregnant (56 days) at the time of your teleconsultation.
- Be over 16 years of age
- Live in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, Northern Territory or Tasmania
- Live within two hours of 24-hour emergency medical care
- Understand and speak English
- Have access to the Internet
If you satisfy the above criteria, you do not need a referral from your doctor to book an appointment, unless you live in Western Australia where it is a legal requirement for all abortions.
Your GP must also ensure that you do not suffer from one of the few medical conditions that can exclude you from having a medical abortion. Read more about these conditions.
Once we have received your results, you’ll be contacted by a member of our National Support Centre team to schedule an appointment, confirm your details and make payment. The cost of a medical abortion via teleconsultation can be a more cost-effective option than having an in-clinic service.
One of our nurses will take your medical history and discuss the medical abortion process with you, answering any questions you might have. On the day of the teleconsultation, the doctor will review the process with you, ensuring you understand:
- How to take the medications;
- What to expect;
- Arrangements for follow-up, including the need for a blood test one week after taking the medication to confirm that the termination has been successful.
Within 1 – 3 business days of your teleconsultation, you will receive your medical abortion pack via courier containing the medications, a pathology referral for the follow-up blood test and a discharge letter in case emergency care is required. (There are very few risks associated with medical abortion – read more about the risks.)
You can speak to a nurse at any time throughout and following the medical abortion process via our 24-hour aftercare service. This is part of our commitment to ensuring you feel safe and supported prior, during and after the medical abortion, and that any concerns are addressed sensitively and without delay.
Medical abortion has a high success rate but a small number of women can experience incomplete abortion, or less commonly ongoing pregnancy. Two weeks following your medical abortion, one of our nurses will call you to check on how you are feeling and to discuss the results of your blood test. If this indicates the abortion has not been successful a doctor will contact you to discuss your options which may involve a surgical procedure.
Is medical abortion via teleconsultation right for you?
Approximately one in three Australian women will seek an abortion during their lifetime1. And, given one-third of the Australian population lives in rural communities, this means that a large number of rural women have to travel long distances to access abortion services, making it more difficult for them to access early termination options.
The introduction of medical abortion via teleconsultation has given rural women in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania access to a safe and supportive non-surgical early termination procedure without the cost and stress of having to travel to a clinic.
If you find yourself with an unplanned pregnancy and are considering termination, you are no more than 8 weeks pregnant and you do not live near a clinic or do not wish to visit a clinic, talk to your GP about the possibility of a medical abortion via teleconsultation, or call Marie Stopes Australia on 1300 003 707.
For more detailed information about our medical abortion via teleconsultation service, visit our tele-abortion page.
To make an appointment or to discuss your options, contact Marie Stopes Australia.
1 Better Health Victoria services and support information