Government removes abortion barriers allowing medication to be accessed over phone

Women who are less than 10 weeks pregnant and want an abortion can now access the medication they need over the phone. 

It's the third and final stage of the Government's plan to remove barriers for those seeking an abortion.

As Americans' access to abortion is restricted with the overturning of Roe vs Wade, New Zealand's is being strengthened.

"You will now be able to get an abortion by phone from anywhere in New Zealand, and that is funded as long as you're an NZ resident," sexual reproductive health specialist Dr Simon Sook said.

From Tuesday, the medical abortion pill is available to people who are less than 10 weeks pregnant.

A new telehealth service connects them to nurses and doctors from the Women's Clinic and Family Planning.

"So this medication is mifepristone, this is sort of known as the abortion pill," Dr Sook said.

The pill will be posted directly to the patient, or available at their pharmacy.

"We're giving medication to make the body miscarry a pregnancy. The body knows how to miscarry - one in three pregnancies end in miscarriage naturally - what happens is we're inducing that," Dr Snook said.

Even though abortions were decriminalised here in 2020, access can be tricky so the Government launched a plan to improve it.

"It's going to help people who live in rural areas, but also people who have privacy concerns or don't have a relationship with a medical practitioner that'll provide an abortion for them," Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said. 

There were 13,257 abortions in New Zealand last year. That number has stayed pretty consistent for the past eight years, but this new telehealth service isn't expected to increase it. What it will do, is result in fewer surgical abortions.

"More people will choose an early medical abortion because they're able to get into the system quicker," Family Planning CEO Jackie Edmund said.

Something pro-life advocates don't want to see.

"For them to just ring up and be given two pills to take like panadol, without any supervision whatsoever, is putting them in grave danger," March For Life executive Michelle Kaufman said.  

But the doctor overseeing the process said that's not the case.

"What's important is when they've got that medication we stay with them, we're available 24 hours a day," Dr Sook said.

Support that pro-choice advocates in the US could only dream of.