Government relaxes abortion law during coronavirus crisis

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has passed temporary legislation allowing women and girls to manage early medical abortions in their own homes. 

A spokesman for DHSC said women and girls will be able to take both pills for early medical abortion up to 10 weeks in their own homes, without the need to first attend a hospital or clinic

Registered medical practitioners (doctors) will be able to prescribe both pills for the treatment of early medical abortion up to 10 weeks from their own homes.

Health bosses in Scotland and Wales today (April 1) they would also be offering telemedicine for early medical abortion care

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) said they strongly welcome the decision, which they say will protect women who seek abortion care during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Dr Edward Morris, president of the RCOG, said: ‘We welcome the decision to allow women in England seeking an early medical abortion to remain at home, have their consultation performed remotely and be sent a treatment package through the post.

‘Giving women the option of taking both abortion pills at home following a video consultation is safe and effective and has rightly been judged as a vital and necessary step if we are to limit the spread of COVID-19.

‘Many women will no longer be forced to make the difficult decision between leaving their home and continuing with an unwanted pregnancy.

‘This change in practice will reduce pressure on the health system while limiting the unnecessary risk of infection for women, their families and health workers.

‘We now urge Northern Ireland to introduce similar measures to help protect frontline staff.’

The announcement comes after government published then deleted the changes to abortion law on Monday (March 30).

Dr Asha Kasliwal, president of the FSRH, said: ‘Clinicians working in sexual and reproductive healthcare are being redeployed to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, and women are finding it increasingly hard to access contraception to prevent unplanned pregnancies.

‘Maternity and abortion services are closing their doors, and there is a severe shortage of midwives. Thousands of face-to-face appointments for abortion care have been cancelled. Women are caught in the middle of this perfect storm, trying to do what is best for them and their household.

‘It is only right that the government has decided to reinstate telemedicine for abortion consultations and home use of mifepristone, the first course of early medical abortion treatment.

‘Last week’s withdrawal of this decision by the Government has only served to make it harder for women to take heed of its own advice to stay home, thereby protecting NHS staff and saving lives.

‘Telemedicine for abortion care assessments is already recommended in NICE guidelines.

‘Home use of the first course of abortion pills for early medical abortion will avoid unnecessary and risky visits to healthcare facilities, ensuring women have access to safe and timely healthcare.

‘This change could not have happened soon enough.

‘We urge the other nations in the UK to follow suit and enable women to access essential reproductive healthcare at home.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay


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