WOMEN in England and Wales will be able to get early medical abortions at home permanently from the end of this month.
New legislation coming in on August 30 will allow women to access pills for an early medical abortion.
These will be given via a teleconsultation, and will be taken at home for gestation of up to nine weeks and six days.
The abortion law was originally relaxed in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic to allow women to get the help they needed from the comfort of their own homes.
The change in the law now makes that move permanent.
The news comes as all independent sector abortion clinics in England have been reapproved.
This will continue to make abortion services available to women across the country – all current approvals are valid until July 31, 2026.
Maggie Throup, the Minister for Public Health said: “The wellbeing and safety of women requiring access to abortion services is paramount.
“With these measures women will have more choice in how and where they access abortion services, while ensuring robust data is collected to ensure their continued safety.”
In England, Scotland and Wales abortion has been a legal since the Abortion Act was passed in 1967.
Most abortions in England, Wales and Scotland are carried out before 24 weeks of pregnancy.
They can be carried out after 24 weeks in very limited circumstances – for example, if the mother’s life is at risk or the child would be born with a severe disability.
The termination is only legal when performed by a licensed medical professional (a doctor) and it must also be signed off by two other doctors.
In Northern Ireland the Abortion Regulations 2020 allow access to abortions up to 12 weeks gestation.
In 2021 there were a total of 214,256 carried out in England and Wales – the highest number since the Abortion Act was introduced.
The situation is very different in the US though after Roe v Wade was overturned earlier this year by the Supreme Court and could see abortion banned in half of America’s 50 states.
Thirteen states have already passed so-called “trigger laws” that automatically outlaw abortion following the decision with others expected to follow.
The move by the Supreme Court caused widespread outrage with protestors taking to the streets across the country.
GUIDELINES SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN
In a bid to ensure the safety of children and young people, the UK’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health will publish safeguarding guidance for under-18s accessing early medical abortion services.
The guidance, which will be published shortly, reinforces the principles that every young person should have access to early medical abortions in a timely manner.
To monitor the impact and use of at home early medical abortions, doctors will be required to include information on place of termination, place of consultation as well as whether the consultation was fully remote on abortion notification forms.
The information will be used to analyse trends in abortion provision as well as monitoring “pathways” for home-use abortions.
Doctors will also be required to certify in “good faith” that the gestation period is below 10 weeks for abortion pills prescribed from home and if one or both pills are taken at a woman’s home.
Clare Murphy, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, BPAS, said: “We are absolutely delighted that following work by BPAS and clinicians across the sector earlier this year, MPs voted to follow the evidence and listen to women – supporting the continuation of this essential service.
“Having been in place since March 2020, we know that early abortion at home is safe, effective and an important option for women.
“BPAS has provided our Pills by Post service to more than 125,000 women so far, and we look forward to continuing this service into September and beyond.”
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