Australia is now offering women at-home abortion kits

Sep 28, 2015 at 5:50 p.m. ET
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Deciding to have an abortion is not easy. All the personal reasons aside, the actual procedure is unpleasant and often expensive, not to mention inaccessible for many women around the world.

However, Australia may have found a way to make the process of getting an abortion a whole lot easier. The Tabbot Foundation is giving Australian women the ability to have safe abortions in their own home — all they have to do is have a phone consultation, a blood test and an ultrasound to make sure their pregnancy is eligible.

You might be wondering how this is possible, considering that until now, most medically approved abortions have only been performed in a doctor's office. According to the foundation's website, "Abortion has been revolutionised by the use of new medications which have been available throughout the world for more than a decade but have been restricted for use in Australia until more recently."

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These medications, known as mifepristone and misoprostol, essentially cause you to miscarry and can be used on early term pregnancies up until nine weeks. The site claims it's safer than surgical abortions because it can be performed earlier and is far less invasive. It's also been used for years already by millions of women, and so far the risks of complications have been minimal.

The process of being approved for an abortion by medication is simple enough: You call the foundation's number, and it sets up a blood test and ultrasound for you. After your results are in, a licensed doctor and psychologist discusses the abortion with you over the phone and ultimately determines whether you're fit to receive an abortion kit.

If you are, the abortion kit you'll receive contains antinausea drugs, painkillers, prophylactic antibiotics and the two aforementioned drugs that induce the miscarriage. All this, including the consultations, tests and an on-call doctor for the duration of your at-home abortion, comes to the low cost of $250 — a little more than half the cost of your average surgical abortion.

It's also extremely helpful for women in more-rural areas, who don't have access to a local clinic. Reproductive Choice Australia co-president Jenny Ejlak said, "It will provide access to medical termination in a lot of parts of the country where it's not available at all, but it will also provide an option for women that is probably going to be a lot cheaper than the other clinics."

A medical abortion can take a few hours to work through your body and feels akin to severe period cramps. According to the foundation's FAQs page, the bleeding usually starts out heavy, then tapers off, but may come back on and off until your next period.

Based on clinical trials in Canada, Turkey and the United States, the procedure is 91-98 percent effective at terminating a pregnancy. However, the foundation requires you to have a blood test 10 days after you perform the abortion to make sure it worked.

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The legality of it all is where things get a bit tricky. As of now, some states and territories in Australia don't allow abortions at all or of this nature, but the foundation makes sure either way before approving one. So far it looks like this new system may revolutionize this otherwise difficult process Down Under, which could pave the way for similar organizations in other countries.

That said, one can only imagine how much red tape and protests the Tabbot Foundation would have had to endure to offer such abortions in the United States.