General practitioners soon able to prescribe ACT abortifacient drugs

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New legislation will allow women to access medication for medical abortion through specially trained GPs from July 1.

From July 1, specially trained general practitioners within the ACT will be able to prescribe medical abortifacients.


“Passing legislation last year to expand access to medical abortion was a historic moment for women in Canberran,” said Greens member Caroline Le Couteur, who introduced the legislative amendment. allowing prescriptions in the ACT. newsGP.

“This reform was way overdue. These drugs have been available on the PBS for many years. From July 1, women in Canberran will have better access to these medicines in a timely manner.

Before private member’s bill introduced by Mrs. Le Couteur, termination of pregnancy could only be performed by medical practitioners in an approved clinic. This limited ACT women seeking dismissal at the Marie Stopes Clinic, at a cost of around $500, or in some cases Canberra Hospital.

However, the cost and stigma of the procedure have proven prohibitive for some patients. This often meant accessing medical stop orders via telehealth services before crossing the border from New South Wales to Queanbeyan, where the drugs could be obtained legally.

RACGP NSW & ACT President, Associate Professor, Charlotte Hespe, believes the new legislation significantly improves the position of women in the ACT.

“Although abortion is not strictly legal in NSW, it is available in certain circumstances, and GPs there have been able to prescribe it for some time,” she said. newsGP.

“But once patients are in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, they face much less expansive requirements to access abortion.

‘It’s much better to provide [medical abortion] under ACT legislation where access is legal versus where it is legal in ACT but you have to go to Queanbeyan to get the drugs and then you have to fulfill a certain requirement.

Charlotte-Hespe-Article.jpg
RACGP NSW & ACT President, Associate Professor, Charlotte Hespe, believes the new legislation significantly improves the position of women in the ACT.

Ms Le Couteur wanted her bill to bring the ACT in line with other Australian jurisdictions, making medical abortion more accessible.

“Access to affordable sexual and reproductive health care, including medical abortion, is part of every person’s right to control their own body, regardless of where they live,” she said. declared.

Canberra Registrar of General Practice Dr Jessica Tidemann agrees with Ms Le Couteur’s aim and supports the role of GPs in access to the procedure.

“As the majority of people have a GP they see regularly, we often see people first for these sorts of things and are also well placed to facilitate access,” she said . newsGP.

“I also think that, although there are often barriers due to the stigma associated with specialist services, people may feel more comfortable going to see a GP because it is less difficult and there is more anonymity to go to a general practice.”

As in other jurisdictions in Australia, it is completely voluntary for GPs to choose whether or not to become medical abortion prescribers.

Additionally, GPs who wish to be able to prescribe a medical abortion must undergo training before they can do so, as it is not necessarily a straightforward procedure.

“Agreeing to be a prescriber is not only saying: “I will give you the prescription”, it is also: “I will give you a prescription and make sure that the course of your care from here to is then appropriately and safely managed,” said Associate Professor Hespe.

Training of GPs in Canberra who want to become prescribers is underway, with 30 register participate before July 1st.

This number includes Dr. Tidemann.

“It mainly covers information about the medical withdrawal process, the medications involved,” she said.

“But also determining who is and who is not suitable for medical termination, because it depends on the gestation of the pregnancy, the person’s access to aftercare services, whether or not they have medical conditions or things that would prevent it from being prescribed medical interruption.

‘[The training] contains specific information on particular drugs, identifying suitable patients and excluding unsuitable patients, and the process for monitoring and managing potential complications, all with the support of local services.

Dr. Tidemann emphasized the focus on patient safety and support throughout the process.

“There’s also a 24-hour drug prescription helpline that women can access, so that’s an added support,” she said.

“I think when used in the right patients with the right support and monitoring, these drugs are quite safe.”



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