A proposed Medicare item for pre-abortion counselling has sparked debate among doctors, with some claiming it would be used to strong-arm patients out of the procedure.
The item is the brainchild of Federal Health Minister Mr Tony Abbott, who said it would be aimed at reducing the number of abortions performed in Australia. Mr Abbott has previously des
cribed the country
s abortion rate as a
t think anyone, whether they
re pro-choice or pro-life, is happy about the vast numbers of abortions that currently take place in Australia, and I think as a society it ought to be possible to do better,
Mr Abbott told a media conference this month.
The idea has won qualified support from some doctors because it would allow GPs more time to discuss abortion issues with patients.
But gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Adrienne Freeman, who performs abortions, warned such an item would be an invasion of patient privacy because it would alert the HIC to the reason for the patient
s visit to a doctor.
Counselling was already catered for in the current system and an additional item would be an incentive to dissuade patients from having an abortion, she said.
s another form of harassment.
Dr David van Gend, the Queensland secretary of the World Federation of Doctors who Respect Human Life, said a counselling item could
improve the quality of information given to confused a
nd vulnerable women
. Informed consent was
in the abortion industry, he said
The woman who is sat down in front of a tape recorder at the abortion clinic and told to press
has not been counselled and cannot give informed consent.
FPA Health medical director Dr Christine Read said a counselling item would give GPs more time to discuss options with patients. But she said it should not be made compulsory.
Compulsory counselling is not something you would indicate was necessary, because it is coercive to some degree,