In all Australian jurisdictions, one, women can access medical abortions via telehealth. In South Australia, the law states that a woman must physically consult two different doctors at an approved hospital to obtain medical abortion pills.
Only a few state hospitals provide the drugs, which means that the vast majority of rural and regional women must travel to the capital Adelaide.
This represents a barrier to access in the best of times, but particularly in the coronavirus pandemic, where many medical appointments and other parts of everyday life move online as people practice social detachment.
South Australia's law remained unchanged as the pandemic occurred, despite government indications temporarily considering allowing abortions via telehealth (which typically involve referral for ultrasound and blood tests, prescription of the RU486 abortion drug and follow-up telephone consultations. or video call).
In early March, South Australia's parliament approved the COVID-19 Law on Emergency Response 2020, which allows for "various temporary modifications" of state laws during the pandemic.
O Minister of Health and Attorney General of the State this may include a change in the abortion law to allow women to use telehealth services. Chief physician Nicola Spurrier said last month that the government was "aware" of the fact that two doctors are currently required to examine a woman seeking an abortion.
But the man who finally has the power to make that change is not the Minister of Health or the Chief Physician – he is Police Commissioner Grant Stevens.