The price of a pill

Medical abortion has had a lot of media coverage lately, and I have addressed it more often than usual here and here, both times calling out the inconsistency of those who profess to care for women's health, yet seek to risk it for the sake of an ideal.

Now we have 'telephone abortions' so that even more healthy women can risk their health, and their lives undergoing a medical abortion in the 'comfort of their own homes'.  Touted as some kind of breakthrough for women's reproductive rights, this process serves to isolate women even further from necessary medical care and support, put young teenagers at risk, and perpetuate circumstances of coercion and violence for women who don't want abortion at all.  We know that women attend clinics feeling coerced or pressured by partners, family members or circumstances.  Who ensures that a woman is not being even more directly coerced by the demands and presence of a partner while making a phone call?

According to the Tabbot Foundations website, even children can access the mail order drugs  as long as they are deemed 'capable of giving informed consent' (except in WA and NT).  This means your 14yr old can, on the basis of a telephone consultation with a doctor and a psychologist, neither of whom have ever met your child, be sent a range of drugs to procure an abortion through the mail.  We have heard from many women about the inadequacy of information giving and screening at abortion clinics so how this group intends to ensure children are capable of consent, or women are not subject to coercion over the telephone seems almost impossible. 

The Tabbot Foundation FAQ page is light on detail and facts, minimising the potential side effects and harm and even using the same 'soft' language of calling the abortion a miscarriage, something that many women who have experienced miscarriage have described as highly offensive.  Their use of a happy, smiling couple to introduce medical abortion information on their home page is equally offensive to the majority of women who experience abortion decision making as quite distressing, and a far cry from the reality of the somber mood of an abortion clinic waiting room.

Where once abortion was touted as a decision made between a woman and her doctor, something we have long disputed given that the doctor involved in a woman's abortion is rarely her own, and rarely takes the time to fully understand her circumstances, we have to wonder what the new slogans glamorising abortion will be.

Let's not kid ourselves. Telephone abortions do not benefit women, do not hold the health of women with any positive regard, and do not protect women and children from coercion or force. This is not a breakthrough for women's rights. It's just another way to abdicate responsibility for supporting, encouraging and nurturing women at the most vulnerable time in their lives. A time when they need genuine people who care about them to talk to them, not strangers on a telephone who know and care nothing about their lives.

Doctors and health workers who continue to call for greater access to medical abortion for women in rural and remote areas, and now without any kind of effective screening or consent for children and vulnerable women are not acting in the best interests of women.   This is very bad medicine indeed and one wonders what tragedy will have to occur for people to suddenly be awakened from their ideological stupor and be shocked at the travesties we inflict on women in the name of 'rights'. 

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