There’s a battle for control of the abortion industry going on in Australia, and it’s not over whether women are able to obtain abortions. A new player called Marie Stopes International (MSI), which has taken over many UK clinics, has entered the market and there are concerns about the effect on prices.

Dr Chris Harmston, manager of Preterm, a not-for-profit abortion charity operating in Sydney since 1973, has watched MSI move into the Sydney market and aggressively promote its services, with advertising in women’s magazines, local papers and major papers. It is also sending glossy brochures to doctors around Sydney.

Abortion is a well-worn and a controversial issue. And while there are regulatory hurdles, women in Australia can easily locate information about abortion. Certainly, there have been recent changes in the political landscape. The Women’s Abortion Action Campaign, dormant for over a decade, is awakening from its long hibernation. But, fundamentally, the battle has been won, and no clinic needs to “raise awareness” – such advertising could only be in pursuit of market share.

The name “Marie Stopes” covers a confusing range of not-for-profit entities, which have emerged over time from the first family planning clinic opened in the UK in 1921 by Dr Marie Stopes. Marie Stopes Australia and Marie Stopes International Australia operate in the Asia-Pacific region and support Indigenous Australia – and are in receipt of federal money. These two entities are registered in Australia, and subject to the scrutiny of ASIC and other relevant bodies.