Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Abortion drug caution urged

Goulburn Valley Pregnancy and Family Support Service comments on push to have abortion drug RU486 added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

ESTELLE GRIEPINK April 30, 2013 4:04am

A pregnancy support service is urging Goulburn Valley women to seek ‘‘good, solid information’’ before making a decision on using a controversial abortion drug.

The comments were made as the nation debates whether the abortion drug RU486 should be added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Goulburn Valley Pregnancy and Family Support Service chairperson Pat Moran said her concern was pregnant women not getting adequate information and support before deciding to use the drug.

‘‘Our organisation is of the opinion that women should be entitled to good, solid information about the choices and decisions they make,’’ Mrs Moran said.

‘‘If RU486 comes onto the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, there is a concern that it could be used quickly, without much thought.’’

Last week, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee said the drugs Mifepristone (RU486) and Misoprostol, which must be taken together, should be covered by the scheme.

The decision would make the drugs available for $11.80 for concession card holders and $72.20 for general patients, drastically lowering the cost of pregnancy termination.

RU486 is already on the World Health Organisation’s list of ‘‘essential drugs’’.

Federal Member for Murray Sharman Stone said if added to the scheme, the drug would give more choices to women with unplanned pregnancies.

‘‘Australia has long had contraception, the morning after pill and the option of surgical terminations,’’ Dr Stone said.

‘‘The addition of RU486 to the PBS provides another alternative for medical professionals to consider what is in the best interests of their patients.’’

However, Mrs Moran said consideration must also be given to a patient’s physical and psychological health.

‘‘A young person could buy the drug, go away, take it at home and not have any surgical help or the attention they need if they got sick afterwards,’’ she said. ‘‘There could be psychological outcomes, too.

‘‘Having this drug on the market might make terminating a pregnancy easier, but no less stressful in the long run.’’

Dr Stone questioned why it had taken so long for Australian medical professionals to be able to provide RU486 for their patients, when it had been available in most developed countries for decades.

Political leaders nationwide have been strong in their opinions about RU486.

Greens senator Lee Rhiannon said Australia needed to ‘‘catch up’’ with countries were medical abortions were already widely available.

But the Australian Christian Lobby disagreed, with chief of staff Lyle Shelton saying the group is against any drug that aided abortion.

‘‘We are against abortion and the destruction of human life at all its stages,’’ Mr Shelton said.

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