The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has commended changes to improve access to medical abortion across Australia, particularly for women living in rural and remote communities.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) decision removes a number of restrictions for health professionals who prescribe and dispense MS-2 Step, including removing the requirement for GPs to undertake mandatory training and registration every three years. The changes also mean that all pharmacies will now be able to stock and dispense medical abortion medication like any other prescription.
The move is in line with recommendations in the Senate Inquiry into Universal Access to Reproductive Health Care report, including those made by the RACGP.
RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said it was a significant step forward to improve access to holistic reproductive care.
“This is a huge step forward to improve access, particularly for those living in rural and remote communities,” she said.
“As a GP in a regional centre, I know all too well that there are significant barriers to reproductive care in rural and remote areas. These services are vital, and they must be affordable and accessible for everyone who needs them.
“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.
Dr Higgins said GPs will be even better placed to provide the holistic support, counselling and follow up that is required with medical abortion.
“GPs are often the first port of call for people seeking support for unplanned pregnancy, because they know and trust their GP, and more so in rural communities where the local GP is often the only health service available.
“It is extremely important. Access to safe medical or surgical abortion services for women is part of a holistic approach to reproductive health. This is essential, regardless of a woman’s income or where she lives,” she said.
The RACGP made a submission to the Senate Community Affairs Committee inquiry into universal access to reproductive healthcare. Dr Higgins and Professor Mazza AM also appeared at a public hearing and both are special advisors to the National Women’s Health Advisory Council.
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