Australian women living in remote communities are turning to ‘telephone abortions’ due to a critical lack of resources for safe terminations.
And whilst the system is far from perfect, at the moment it is their only option.
The barriers between these women and a safe abortion are immense. Firstly, there’s the distance: women living in rural communities, mining towns, or isolated farms cannot always travel the hundreds of thousands of kilometers to their closest hospital for a surgical abortion.
Also, some Australian states still consider abortion illegal unless a minimum of two doctors rule the pregnancy to be a danger to the mother’s mental or physical health.
And even if this is the case, a surgical abortion is generally the only option, with the non-invasive ‘medical abortion’ option of the RU486 tablet being stocked by only four per cent of Australian doctors.
Oh, and if you live in the NT? It’s not stocked by anyone at all… Because it’s against the law to do so.
(You can see the laws explained fully, here.)
Little surprise, therefore, that so many women are seizing the opportunity to carry out their own ‘telephone abortion’.
A ‘telephone abortion’ is the term given for at-home abortions performed by women without any face-to-face contact with a medical team. In other words, they’re on their own.
Connected only with their phone and the mail service; these women are guided through the abortion process by psychologists and doctors over the phone, and are supplied with the drugs in the mail. They’re sent not just the RU486 drugs, but also antibiotics, painkillers, and anti-inflammatories to prevent infection.