Despite the rhetoric anti-abortion advocates might use, the decision to have an abortion is not made flippantly or thoughtlessly.
And the procedure itself, is not an easy option. It can be upsetting, daunting, or downright scary.
But it’s a decision women make, because they have the right to decide what happens to their body – and consequently their own lives.
Which is why the news that the abortion drug RU486 is being sold at inflated prices is so troubling. RU486 was added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) in June this year to make it easier to access.
Prior to its listing on the PBS, RU-486 would cost between $300 to $800. These changes mean that it should cost as little as $5.90 for concession card holders, and $36.10 for general patients.
However, News Ltd reports at the weekend suggest that in some private clinics, RU486 is in fact more expensive than a surgical abortion. Some women are paying nearly $500 for the drug.
Abortion has been and remains an emotional issue. On one side advocates welcomed the removal of the prohibitive cost, claiming it would no longer inhibit a women’s ability to make decisions about her own body. The opposing side, the anti-abortion campaigners warned that the low cost of the drug would guarantee it would be abused.
What’s troubling about this is that the continuing high cost of RU486 puts it further out of reach for the women it was most likely to help. Cait Calcutt, of Children By Choice’s, told News Ltd, that “It’s a minimum $500 for early medical termination, before seven weeks. It’s higher, up around $700 in regional areas.”
This makes it almost impossible for women living in rural areas; young women; sexual assault victims; refugees and victims of domestic violence to use a drug they are legally entitled to access.
Why is it costing so much, despite a listing on the PBS?