Home-use of abortion pill to be legalised in England

Medical Devices

Medical abortions require a woman to take two oral drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol. The former stops progesterone from working, and the latter encourages the lining of the womb to break down. If a woman wants to terminate their pregnancy in the early stages, they go to the clinic to undergo checks in accordance with the Abortion Act (1967), and to request the required drugs. Currently they have to go back to the clinic to take the second pill, but now the government has decided to change this legislation so that women will be able to choose whether to take the second pill in the clinic or within the comfort of their own home. This legislation should be in force by the end of 2018.

CEO of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, Ann Furedi, said: “We are delighted by this decision, which represents an outbreak of common sense. It will dramatically improve the experience of the more than 100,000 women in England who undergo Early Medical Abortion every year. Enabling women to use this medication at home rather than being forced to take it in a clinic means women will no longer risk pain and bleeding as they travel home after taking it, and means they can use it at the time that is right for them, when they are safe and comfortable in the privacy of their own homes.”

“The government has decided to change this legislation so that women will be able to choose whether to take the second pill in the clinic or within the comfort of their own home.“

Professor Lesley Regan, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, agreed: “Today’s announcement that use of misoprostol at home will be allowed in England is hugely welcomed and a major step forward for women’s healthcare. This simple and practical measure will provide women with significantly more choice and is the most compassionate care we can give them. It will allow women to avoid distress and embarrassment of bleeding and pain during their journey home from an unnecessary second visit to a clinic or hospital. It will also improve access to safe and regulated abortion care and take pressure off NHS services.”

However the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children disagreed and said it “further trivialises abortion. The abortion pill puts women through a terrible emotional and physical ordeal. The determination of the abortion industry to push women to undergo this in their own home with no real medical supervision illustrates their cavalier attitude when it comes to the well-being of women.”

Clare McCarthy from Right to Life concurred: “Self-administering these strong drugs is not to be taken lightly and the utmost quality of care should be provided to these women, especially those who suffer from complications afterwards. The home abortion is not a safe or sensible solution for women. It will significantly reduce the supervision and care that is provided to women during a medical abortion. Taking the abortion pill away from medical supervision totally avoids dealing with the real issues facing women in that situation. It makes no provision for real, affirmative aftercare for these women potentially leading to further emotional and medical risk. Women’s safety or health should never be compromised for the sake of convenience or profit.”

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