The general sentiment of the Hippocratic Oath is still taught around the world wherein the medical fraternity should "first do no harm then do some good". Depending on which version you read this sentiment polarises opinion. Looking to the actual text the Classical version states that "I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art" whereas the Modern version states that "I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug."
US Senator Wendy Davis recently filibustered for 11 hours to prevent Texas from passing a bill which would result in the closure of nearly 90 per cent of the state's 42 abortion clinics; Sydney's Archbishop George Pell is on record stating that "abortion is a worse moral scandal than priests sexually abusing young people" and NSW Labor MP Ed Husic and the overtly religious members of my family shy away from such "impolite dinner time discussions" and prefer to talk about... well, anything else.
Abortion is evidently a contentious issue and just to be clear, this article is not about when life begins and it's certainly not about whether abortion is murder it's simply about patient safety.
Discussions about RU486 (mifepristone) in Australia are heating up again which sadly have spilled into the political arena and consequently women (and their uteri) are being used as pawns in the impending election. A brief pharmacological review about the MOA (mode of action) RU486, it is a 19-norsteroid which has a specific high affinity binding to the progesterone and glucocorticoid receptor and it is generally accepted that it acts as a pure progesterone antagonist almost without agonistic activity. It acts on the endometrium, but also indirectly through an effect on the pituitary gonadotrophin secretion... so hormonally the uterine lining is proliferated and the foetus is unviable.
I have worked in third world countries, the UK and the US and have compared Healthcare systems to realise that Australians have a pretty good deal – Medicare, a robust TGA, the PBS, PROBE clinical trials and access to safe medications. The WHO (World Health Organization) endorses the use of RU486 and it has been proven to be a safer and less traumatic (emotionally and physically) method of early gestation termination than a surgical termination which requires an anaesthetic, foreign instrumentation to be inserted into the uterus and a stint in a clinic or hospital. The risk and complications are much higher, so one has to ask the question why do we not have access to this on the PBS as yet? Time and/or an election will tell...