It's been 10 years since abortion drug RU486 was legalised in Australia - but most women still can't easily access it.
Fewer than one in 20 doctors and gynaecologists have been certified to prescribe the pill, two new studies show.
And even if a woman can find a GP or gynaecologist to prescribe a medical abortion, she faces an uphill battle actually getting the script filled. Of the 29,000 pharmacies in this country, only 2175 actually dispense the drug, which allows women to terminate an early-stage pregnancy without undergoing a surgical procedure.
That’s in contrast to countries like Scotland, Sweden and France where nearly 50% of abortions are non-surgical. In Australia, roughly 80,000 pregnancies, which equates to about one in four, are terminated every year but the vast majority are done via a surgical procedure.
Melbourne University Associate Professor Louise Keogh who conducted one of the studies told Hack that RU486 is "not the be all and end all, but it's an option women should know about.”
She attributes the low-rate of take-up to the "horrendous stigma” medical professionals can face.
"It’s very much an individual doctor's choice that leads to different towns having different setting…They say they can't really advertise offering a service because they fear that will attract protesters, and that then disadvantages women who don't know the service is there."