What do the changes to the Health (Improving Abortion Access) Amendment Act 2018 mean?
The changes aim to make medical abortion more accessible in the ACT by allowing specially trained General Practitioners (GPs) and ‘telehealth’ services to prescribe medical abortion medications, and trained pharmacists to dispense medical abortion medications.
- Medical abortions will no longer be required to occur at an approved medical facility. Instead, GPs, telehealth providers and Marie Stopes will be able to provide medical abortions.
- A person can visit their GP or a telehealth provider for initial discussions on options available and referrals for blood tests and ultrasounds.
- A trained pharmacist can then dispense the medical abortion medications.
- A person prescribed a medical abortion will be able to choose where they take the prescribed medication, making the process more personal and appropriately sensitive under the circumstances.
- Follow up care can be provided by your GPs and Marie Stopes Australia. Marie Stopes Australia provide a 24 hour aftercare service on 1300 401 926.
When do the changes to the Health (Improving Abortion Access) Amendment Act 2018 take effect?
The changes apply to medical abortions only, effective 1 July 2019. There are no changes to surgical abortions.
What is the difference between a medical and surgical abortion?
Medical abortion means the prescription, supply or administration of an abortifacient (medicines causing an abortion, such as MS-2 Step).
- This option is available to women up to nine weeks gestation and involves taking prescribed medications Mifepristone and Misoprostol. These medications are sold together as MS‑2 Step.
Surgical abortion means a surgical procedure (other than the administration or supply of an abortifacient) that causes a pregnancy to end prematurely.
- This option involves a day surgery procedure and is available to women in the ACT up to 16 weeks gestation. In the ACT, this is only available at Marie Stopes Australia.
- Canberra Hospital only performs abortions under specific medical circumstances.
How will I know if my GP can prescribe the abortion medication?
You will need to ask your GP. Alternatively, you can contact Marie Stopes for GP or telehealth provider details in your area.
How will I know if my Pharmacist can dispense the abortion medication?
GPs who prescribe medication for a medical abortion will provide details of which pharmacies are able to dispense the medication.
I live in bordering NSW regions, can I access abortion services in the ACT?
Yes, anyone can access abortion services from ACT providers.
I’m a GP and interested in undertaking the training. How can I access training?
GPs will be required to undertake specific training to be qualified to prescribe medical abortion medications.
Online training is available through the Marie Stopes Australia website: https://www.mariestopes.org.au/become-a-prescriber/.
I’m a Pharmacist and interested in undertaking the training. How can I access training?
Pharmacists will be required to undertake specific training to be qualified to dispense medical abortion medications. Online training is available through the Marie Stopes Australia website: https://www.mariestopes.org.au/become-a-prescriber/.
What are exclusion zones?
Exclusion zones are protected areas around a facility, which provides medical and/or surgical abortions. An exclusion zone covers a set area around a facility to ensure privacy and unimpeded access to anyone entering or leaving the facility between 7am and 6pm.
Currently, Marie Stopes Australia is the only facility in the ACT with an exclusion zone. This facility has a 150 metre exclusion zone in place to allow patients to access the facility without fear of demonstrations or protests.
The new legislation will allow GPs and Pharmacists to apply to have an exclusion zone through Ministerial declaration.
Where can I get more information?
For information on abortion options and support services, please visit: