Continue Medicare funded telehealth to ensure access to early medical abortion

Continue Medicare funded telehealth to ensure access to early medical abortion

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The women* of Australia need continued access to Medicare funded telehealth to be able to access early medical abortion services - An open letter to the Australian government

Equitable access to abortion services for Australian women is a key priority of the National Women’s Health Strategy of 2020 to 2030. The ability to offer access to early medical abortion via telehealth for those women (particularly rural women and those from vulnerable groups) who are unable to access these services from their local general practitioner is key to creating equitable access in the Australian context.

We are therefore calling on you, the Australian government, as a matter of urgency to ensure that Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) telehealth item numbers continue to be available to all Australian women (including both rural and urban women) for the purpose of accessing early medical abortion via telehealth through Medicare.

This could be achieved through either:

  • Continuing the availability of generic MBS telehealth item numbers for women for the purposes of early medical abortion by doctors other than the woman’s usual general practitioner; or
  • Creating an unrestricted new specific MBS item number for the purpose of telehealth early medical abortion

We also call upon the South Australian Government to act urgently to amend South Australian legislation to allow South Australian women to access early medical abortion outside of hospital settings (enabling delivery in the community, through general practice and via telehealth).

More information on the SPHERE National Health and Medical Research Council’s Centre for Research Excellence and the Coalition in Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health which it auspices, and their consensus statement on improving access to early medical abortion through telehealth, on which this petition is based, can be found here.

 

*We use women as an inclusive and broad term that acknowledges the diversity in needs and experiences of all people who may access and use hormonal contraception, abortion and sexual and reproductive health services