South Australia Is Waiting On One Man To Decide If Women Have To Travel For Medical Abortions In A Pandemic
In every Australian jurisdiction bar one, women can access medical abortions over telehealth. In South Australia, the law dictates a woman must physically see two different doctors at an approved hospital to get medical abortion pills.
Only a handful of hospitals in the state provide the pills, meaning the vast majority of rural and regional women have to travel to the capital Adelaide.
This presents a barrier to access in the best of times, but particularly in the coronavirus pandemic, where many medical appointments and other parts of daily life have moved online as people practise social distancing.
South Australia’s law has remained unchanged as the pandemic has played out, despite indications the government was considering temporarily allowing telehealth abortions (which typically involve a referral for an ultrasound and blood test, a prescription for abortion drug RU486 and any follow-up consultations over phone or video call).
In early March the South Australian parliament passed the COVID-19 Emergency Response 2020 Act, which allows “various temporary modifications” of the state’s laws during the pandemic.
The state health minister and attorney-general indicated this could include a tweak to abortion law to allow women to use telehealth services. …continued .