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Eased rules to free up access to medical abortion

Medical abortion

Medical abortions will become easier to access under loosened rules that allow doctors and pharmacists without specialist certification to prescribe termination pills.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has scrapped restrictions on the prescription of medical abortion pills, which are used in the early stages of an unwanted pregnancy.

The MS-2 Step medication, known as RU486 in some countries, was previously only allowed to be prescribed by a doctor with specialist certification and then provided by a pharmacist registered to dispense the product.

It can now be prescribed by any healthcare practitioner with appropriate qualifications and training, including nurse practitioners.

Restrictions on pharmacists have also been lifted. 

As an additional safeguard, a warning will be included in the medicine’s product information outlining the circumstances when someone should be referred to a doctor.

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Nicole Higgins said the move would improve access to the service for those living in rural and remote communities. 

“The TGA’s changes will enable greater access to medical abortion for women throughout Australia and will reduce unnecessary red tape for the GPs who provide these essential services,” she said.

Dr Higgins said GPs were better placed to provide holistic support and counselling on medical abortions and were often the only health services available in regional areas. 

“These services are vital, and they must be affordable and accessible for everyone who needs them,” she said.

Assistant Health Minister Ged Kearney welcomed the effort to remove prescription red tape.

“Our government has no higher priority than strengthening primary care and welcome the changes that allow these trusted and highly skilled providers to provide care within their scope of practice,” she said.

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