Expanding access to the medical abortion pill is a "step in the right direction" but more needs to be done to help people in regional areas like Dubbo, says an expert. Earlier in the week the Therapeutic Goods Administration agreed to remove a number of restrictions around prescribing and dispensing MS-2 Step, a two-step drug used to terminate a pregnancy before nine weeks. The changes mean medical practitioners are no longer required to register and be certified to prescribe MS-2 and pharmacists don't need to register to dispense it. Currently, only one in 10 medical practitioners and can prescribe the drug and three in 10 pharmacies can dispense it. While the changes have been praised by Family Planning Australia abortion expert and general practitioner Phoebe Walsh, she said more still needed to be done. Family Planning, which has an office in Dubbo, is pushing for even better access to abortion care in rural and regional areas. Dr Walsh said she would like to see restrictions lifted even further so MS-2 could be prescribed by registered nurses, not just nurse practitioners. "We'd like to see more training for GPs who provide this kind of service to women and we'd like to see improved access to affordable abortion care post nine weeks, especially in the public sector," she said. Currently a pregnant person has limited options and can struggle in regional areas to find a service where they can access a medical termination before nine weeks, Dr Walsh said. It can lead to someone having to travel to a metro area to access a surgical termination. "It really limits a woman's ability to have complete ownership [of her body] and make the choices that are right for them at the time," she said. Dr Walsh is hopefully practitioners in Dubbo will take advantage of the eased restrictions. "I'm hoping this will be one further encouragement to GPs. They can certainly still access training but there's less barriers to providing the new service," she said. "The amount of media that we've seen on the topic this week highlights the fact that it's a hot topic in the community and people are aware the services are not sufficient at the moment." It's not only the increased number of medical professionals prescribing the drug that will make a difference to those seeking an abortion. "We spend a lot of time at Family Planning when we are prescribing the medication ringing around pharmacies to make sure women will actually be able to access the medication when they need it," Dr Walsh said. "Those women have usually been through a lot. They've already had to come to the decision [to abort the pregnancy] and found a prescriber, gotten the time off work to attend the appointment, had the blood tests and the ultrasounds and this is just one extra variable on top." Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ged Kearney said the changes, which will come into effect from August 1, will improve equitable access to healthcare. "We know that women experience structural barriers trying to access the health care that they need, particularly in regional and rural areas. That's why it's so important that all health practitioners can perform the care that they are already trained to provide," she said. "These changes recognise the importance of health practitioners that women see regularly - their GP, their nurse practitioner and their community pharmacist." Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Dr Nicole Higgins said the TGA decision was a "huge step forward", particularly for "those living in rural and remote communities". Reading this on mobile web? Download our news app. It's faster, easier to read and we'll send you alerts for breaking news as it happens. Download in the Apple Store or Google Play.