RU486 to be listed on Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

The Federal Government has approved the listing of medication abortion drug mifepristone, or RU486, on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) today.

The ABC reports:

Women have paid up to $800 for the RU486 pill, but Ms Plibersek says from August it will cost less than $37.

“It doesn’t change any legal position around abortion and it doesn’t change the number of women who are likely to terminate a pregnancy,” she said.

Ms Plibersek says about 22,000 women have already used RU486 through some clinics.

“What the provision of these medicines does is give women slightly more choice and more options,” she said.

“I think that is a good thing in the situation where women are faced with one of the most difficult decisions that they will ever make.”

This is fantastic news for women across Australia, and we hope that it encourages GPs, particularly those in rural and remote areas, to consider becoming prescribers of mifepristone so women are able to access terminations in their communities.

Overseas, the introduction of medication abortion has generally resulted in more women choosing medication abortion over time, so that although the overall abortion rate remains unchanged, more terminations take place earlier in pregnancy. There is no reason to suspect Australia would be any different in this regard.

On a side note, points to the Daily Tele for publicising the story (“JULIA Gillard’s last act as prime minister included signing off on cabinet approval for slashing the cost of abortion pill RU486 to as little as $12.”) but not for the tacky headline (“Julia Gillard’s cut price abortion drug”. Really?) Minus points to the anti-choice groups who earlier this year described mifepristone as a ‘human pesticide’. Charming.

ThanksJuliaPhoto: Alex Ellinghausen. Published by The Age online on 27 June 2013.