By Emilie Ng
SAVING women from the traumas of life-threatening abortifacients is Brisbane doctor Terrence Kent’s day job.
But the advocate for natural medical interventions for infertility could find his workload increasing following the announcement of a phone abortion service available to Australian women.
“My job is to stop these things,” Dr Kent said.
Tabbot Foundation, named after the former Prime Minister who fought against legalising the abortifacient RU486, launched a phone service offering women the harmful drug without doctor consultations.
Women can receive a medical assessment over the phone and have the abortion pill RU486 sent by mail for $250.
The Tabbot Foundation website also includes a section titled Parental Consent and in Queensland, a “mature” minor may give consent without a guardian.
Dr Kent, who is president of the Medical Guild of St Luke, a group of Catholic doctors, said the new phone service by Tabbot Foundation, which will offer the abortion drug to women up to nine weeks gestation, was “unacceptable”.
“This new service is really not responsible medicine,” he said.
“It seems quite unethical and dangerous.”
He said RU486 was the name given to “highly toxic drugs” with a history causing toxic shock, serious or life-threatening internal bleeding, infections and problems with future fertility.
Through Tabbot Foundation, women using RU486 will take a mifepristone tablet, which blocks essential pregnancy hormone progesterone to a woman’s reproductive organs, and misopristol, a drug used to “expel the babies”.
By law, doctors are expected to do a special course in order to prescribe the drug.
One Australian woman was reported to have died after taking RU486.
Dr Kent also said the abortion pill was “too convenient” for women facing unwanted or unplanned pregnancies.
“When a woman walks into a clinic, they are pushed to take the tablets before they leave,” he said.
“There’s no chance to think about (not having an abortion) or to talk about it with others.”
In Dr Kent’s experience, it was “certainly quite common” for women to change their minds after taking RU486 and have successfully “reversed” the abortion.
Women who do walk through his clinic will find a gentle, listening ear and learn the facts about abortion.
“I try to reassure them that they can get by, that they don’t have to terminate,” Dr Kent said.
“When you give them a positive outlook, they do change their minds.”
Despite Tabbot Foundation’s claim that RU486 is a “safe” and easier alternative to surgical abortions, the federal health department is investigating the service, but has not made an official statement on the issue.
“The Commonwealth Department of Health is considering the implications of this arrangement on the health and wellbeing of women, in the context of the access provided by telehealth consultations, the authority required by prescribers to offer mifepristone and misoprostol under the PBS, and the guidelines for dispensing pharmaceuticals via the mail,” a department spokeswoman said.
Cherish Life Queensland president Teresa Martin said it was in the federal government’s interest to stop Tabbot Foundation because the service could increase cases of domestic abuse.
Ms Martin, who is in contact with many women considering abortions, was concerned the phone abortion services could used to cover-up sexual abuse cases because RU486 offered an easy solution.
She also questioned whether the group would be able to weed out women pretending to be pregnant
“What would prevent them from giving it to a friend?” she said.
But the most startling reality was the continuous push to start groups that “kill babies”.
“When are we going to stop finding ways to kill babies?” Ms Martin said.
“What’s so worrying for me is that these women calling up for RU486 – their bedrooms become the tomb for their baby.”
Ms Martin said women considering taking the drug needed to realise that abortion through RU486 was “not a neat process”.
“When do they think the baby will be expelled? It could be a few hours, or in three days,” she said.
“All of the baby doesn’t come out straight away.”
Ms Martin said in many cases, women needed follow-up surgery or were admitted to hospital for “bleeding or removing retained foetal body parts”.