LAUNCESTON’S only abortion clinic is set to close its doors due to increasing costs and declining demand.
Specialist Medical Centres Tasmania chief executive Paul Hyland said changed laws around the licensing of day surgeries combined with additional costs of insurance, accreditation and compliance had pushed the cost of a surgical abortion to $500 – double what it was just three years ago.
Paired with increasing numbers of women choosing medical abortions – a safe process which uses pills rather than surgical instruments to terminate a pregnancy – the business chose not to renew its license for the Launceston Centre as the service was no longer viable.
Dr Hyland conceded “we shot ourselves in the foot” when he established national online medical termination service The Tabbot Foundation but said it was borne from necessity.
Medical abortions have been proven to be 98 per cent effective for early pregnancy termination. The process costs Tabbot patients $250 including $100 in drugs.
He said The Tabbot Foundation received more than 100 hits on its website daily and dealt with more than 30 patients each week.
“We couldn’t get anyone in Launceston to provide the drugs,” Dr Hyland said.
“We now provide telephone consultations, then we mail out the medications. They have a 24-hour number to call a specialist during the process if necessary and we have a nurse do follow-up.
“We are the first and only service in the world to provide this. We don’t realise how privileged we are – it’s novel, it’s unique, and we’re doing it safely.”
Dr Hyland said it disappointing the Launceston clinic would close but said surgical terminations would still be provided from the Hobart Centre for patients who did not want a medical termination or had a pregnancy of more than nine weeks.
“[The Launceston Centre] is a prestige, first-class centre we developed at a cost of a couple hundred thousand dollars and it’s a shame to see it go, but it’s the way the world is going,” he said.