Early medical abortion: reflections on current practice

O&G Magazine (RANZCOG), by Dr Lisa Rasmussen

In the last 30 years, medical abortion has globally become an established, safe and straightforward method for pregnancies of less than nine weeks gestation. It is now recommended by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists as the method of choice for women up to nine weeks gestation.

The reality of providing medical abortion for women, however, is a more complex matter. Abortion services are contextualised by the specific and, at times, changing abortion laws in each country and state. These laws, in turn, are determined and maintained by each jurisdiction’s specific gendered social and political histories, practices and attitudes.

In Australia and New Zealand, this context continues to affect who can provide medical abortions, the models of care adopted, the ongoing struggle to provide affordable and accessible care to all women, and the level to which medical abortion is accepted as a normal and important part of women’s healthcare.

Within the context of these histories and challenges, this article will attempt to guide you through the process of providing a medical abortion as a health practitioner.

National abortion data vital to safe, accessible services

MJA InSight+, Issue 10 / 18 March 2019

EXPERTS are in the dark about the extent to which abortion is contributing to Australia’s historically low teenage birth rate, prompting renewed calls for the collection of national abortion data.

In a Perspective published by the MJA, Professor Susan Sawyer, Chair of Adolescent Health at the University of Melbourne, and Dr Jennifer Marino, research fellow at the University of Melbourne, have called for the collection of abortion data in all states and territories, with national integration and analysis. They further called for publicly funded abortion clinics in all states and territories, with a feasible plan for access for people living in remote areas.

Study: Abortion Pills Ordered Online Were Safe, But None Came With Instructions

Rewire, Oct 10, 2017

New research shows that you can buy effective abortion pills online. This is a groundbreaking finding given that cost, travel, and onerous abortion restrictions often make in-clinic, first-trimester abortions inaccessible.

In the study, published Tuesday in the peer-reviewed journal Contraception, researchers ordered abortion pills from 20 websites, none of which required a prescription. Once the pills arrived in their homes, researchers sent the pills to a lab in good standing with the FDA to test the pills’ chemical contents.

The lab confirmed that all of the mifepristone, one of the two drugs used during a medication abortion, was within 8 percent of the advertised—and World Health Organization-approved—effective amount. The other drug, misoprostol, varied more considerably in how much of it was present in the pills the researchers received. Despite this variation, the researchers determined that the misoprostol pills would still be effective in causing an abortion.