ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa commends the Ministry of Health’s plan for a funded national abortion telehealth service as a significant step toward expanding access to abortion care.
“This service will address some of the current inequities in abortion access, especially for those who have to travel long distances. As seen during the pandemic, abortion telehealth helps ensure timely care and reduces burdens of cost, travel, and time,” says ALRANZ spokesperson Dr Tracy Morison. The service will help reduce gaps in reproductive healthcare for low-income, Māori, Pacifica, and disabled people.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, self-managed telemedicine abortion has increased globally. It has been demonstrated to be as safe and effective as when conducted in person in a medical facility. New Zealand’s service will provide consultations and medications for early medical abortions along with related services, including consultations, information, referrals, counselling, and after-care support.
In addition to helping reduce access barriers, telehealth abortion services provide consumers with privacy. Although support for abortion law reform is widespread, stigma persists. Morison says telehealth services allow consumers to avoid harassment, conscientious objection, or disclosing their choice if it is unsafe to do so.
ALRANZ applauds the national abortion telehealth service’s aim of providing free and flexible options and consumer-driven pathways. This initiative helps promote equitable sexual and reproductive healthcare for all New Zealanders.