New Government-funded helpline offers over the phone couriered prescriptions for abortions

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Feb 23, 2022 |

A new national abortion telephone service has been given the green light by the Government.

Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall said the phone service will connect people to abortion information, advice and counselling over the phone from health practitioners anywhere in the country.

“In-person care will always be offered, but it’s important that other options are available as well where suitable.”

In 2000, Dr Helen Paterson, chair of the Abortion Providers Group Aotearoa New Zealand told RNZ “with an in-depth telephone consultation, a doctor could determine whether a person qualified for an early medical abortion, acquire informed consent and offer counselling.”

“Provided people fit the criteria to be able to have a safe early medical abortion… then we could actually just send them the [tablets in a] courier package,” Paterson said.”

Decide will be rolled out in three phases.

Referrals and information about abortion services will be available from 26 April.

Follow-up care and abortion-related counselling will be available from 1 July 2022. 

“The final phase, set for November, includes ‘telemedicine’ providing clinical consultations for an early medical abortion over the phone and couriering medications.“

“Telehealth makes it easier for people to reach the services and support that already exist, particularly those who find it difficult to visit a doctor or clinic. It also gives assurance to health practitioners that their patients have additional sources of support.”

“As part of the telemedicine service, people will be able to immediately talk to a practitioner willing to provide abortion services, removing a key barrier for some people.”

All patients of this service will be part of an active follow-up process and services will be available via the free, dedicated number 0800 DECIDE.

Decide will be led by Family Planning and Magma Healthcare (also trading as The Women’s Clinic).

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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