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Tag: RU486 (Page 1 of 2)

Medical abortion has had a lot of media coverage lately, and I have addressed it more often than usual here and here, both times calling out the inconsistency of those who profess to care for women's health, yet seek to risk it for the sake of an ideal.

Now we have 'telephone abortions' so that even more healthy women can risk their health, and their lives undergoing a medical abortion in the 'comfort of their own homes'.  Touted as some kind of breakthrough for women's reproductive rights, this process serves to isolate women even further from necessary medical care and support, put young teenagers at risk, and perpetuate circumstances of coercion and violence for women who don't want abortion at all.  We know that women attend clinics feeling coerced or pressured by partners, family members or circumstances.  Who ensures that a woman is not being even more directly coerced by the demands and presence of a partner while making a phone call?

According to the Tabbot Foundations website, even children can access the mail order drugs  as long as they are deemed 'capable of giving informed consent' (except in WA and NT).  This means your 14yr old can, on the basis of a telephone consultation with a doctor and a psychologist, neither of whom have ever met your child, be sent a range of drugs to procure an abortion through the mail.  We have heard from many women about the inadequacy of information giving and screening at abortion clinics so how this group intends to ensure children are capable of consent, or women are not subject to coercion over the telephone seems almost impossible. 

The Tabbot Foundation FAQ page is light on detail and facts, minimising the potential side effects and harm and even using the same 'soft' language of calling the abortion a miscarriage, something that many women who have experienced miscarriage have described as highly offensive.  Their use of a happy, smiling couple to introduce medical abortion information on their home page is equally offensive to the majority of women who experience abortion decision making as quite distressing, and a far cry from the reality of the somber mood of an abortion clinic waiting room.

Where once abortion was touted as a decision made between a woman and her doctor, something we have long disputed given that the doctor involved in a woman's abortion is rarely her own, and rarely takes the time to fully understand her circumstances, we have to wonder what the new slogans glamorising abortion will be.

Let's not kid ourselves. Telephone abortions do not benefit women, do not hold the health of women with any positive regard, and do not protect women and children from coercion or force. This is not a breakthrough for women's rights. It's just another way to abdicate responsibility for supporting, encouraging and nurturing women at the most vulnerable time in their lives. A time when they need genuine people who care about them to talk to them, not strangers on a telephone who know and care nothing about their lives.

Doctors and health workers who continue to call for greater access to medical abortion for women in rural and remote areas, and now without any kind of effective screening or consent for children and vulnerable women are not acting in the best interests of women.   This is very bad medicine indeed and one wonders what tragedy will have to occur for people to suddenly be awakened from their ideological stupor and be shocked at the travesties we inflict on women in the name of 'rights'.

Outback Medical Abortion

It is outrageous that women's groups and health professionals who should know much better are complaining that the Northern Territory government is restricting medical abortion.

Dr Suzanne Belton, Chair of the Northern Territory Family Planning association demonstrates a dangerous ignorance about the potential harm from medical abortion to women in rural and remote areas of the country.

She proposes arguments for medical abortion that are inconsistent with the recommended and appropriate health care of women when she laments that fact that, "Women face a road trip of hundreds of kilometres, which could take several days, to reach Darwin orAlice Springs, and may have trouble affording childcare or negotiating time off work.".

All recommended guidelines for the use of medical abortion state that women must be within a very short distance of emergency medical care following commencement of a medical abortion regime.  To propose that women in remote communities should have access to a potentially very dangerous drug without access to such services is at best irresponsible.  This is not a procedure suited to the needs of women in rural and remote areas, even if they have a GP in their smaller communities able to prescribe it.

Keep in mind it may also be difficult to negotiate childcare and time off work while undergoing what some women have described as 'the most excruciating pain that went on for 3 days' and 'I bled so much I couldn't believe I wasn't going to die'.

Medical abortion danger

More informed and dangerous calls for greater access to medical abortions in remote areas should alarm not just the medical community, but the general public, particularly when such calls come from women's health organisations that should be better informed.   The guidelines for medical abortion specifically stating that women require access to immediate emergency medical care while taking the drugs due to the risk of serious complications.  Medical abortion also requires a minimum of 2 visits to the abortion provider, thereby further disadvantaging those in remote areas who would still need to travel twice.

Ms Pulford is quoted lamenting the unfairness of Victorian women having to take 'days and days off work' in order to travel to Melbourne for a medical abortion, demonstrating her complete lack of understanding of the medical abortion process.  Unlike surgical abortion, which women can make a single appointment for, attend on the day, and often return to work the next day, medical abortion means that a woman will bleed, often very heavily for an average of 16 days.  Other side effects include:

  • 70% of women will experience nausea
  • 45% vomiting
  • 30% diarrhoea

... along with a multitude of other potential adverse effects including severe bleeding, fever, infection, dizziness .. and the list goes on.  One Australian woman has already lost her life as a result of medical abortion complications, and there are now 14 deaths reported worldwide. 

The potential for an increased risk of adverse psychological suffering is also greater than with surgical abortion given the woman's more active participation in the process and the possibility of seeing her expelled foetus. 

Regardless of one's ideological position on abortion, few could reasonably defend medical abortion as a preferred option for women in remote areas, unless they have a complete disregard for the health and well-being of women. 




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