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Medical Abortion Conference

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

180 participants from Australia and New Zealand attended a conference in Wellington on Friday 16 October and Saturday 17 October to discuss the use of mifepristone in Australasia.

The conference heard of new initiatives to provide early medical abortion services by Family Planning in New Zealand and by Marie Stopes International in Australia.

Dr Alison Knowles of Auckland launched the document "Standards of care for women requesting induced abortion in New Zealand" a report of a Standards Committee to the Abortion Supervisory Committee.

This is a 'first' for New Zealand abortion providers and Dr Rosy Fenwicke of the Abortion Supervisory Committee thanked Dr Knowles for leading the development of the best practice guidelines. The aim is to ensure that all women in New Zealand considering abortion have access to a service of uniform high quality.

Professor Peter Stone, Professor of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Auckland University presented a paper on the alternative uses of mifepristone, better known as the 'abortion pill'.

He said "Although mifepristone is currently used mainly for medical abortions the drug has other valuable properties and in the future we will see it being used for the treatment of other conditions, especially fibroids and endometriosis."

Dr Christian Fiala, of Vienna, one of the four international speakers emphasised the safety of early medical abortion and the need for more abortions to be done as early as possible. The earlier an abortion is done the safer it is. Although there has been some improvement in the percentage of abortions done at eight weeks or less, over the last five years, New Zealand still lags behind other comparable countries in this regard.

Dr Fiala said "Delays within the system compromise safety."

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