Women 'should be able to take abortion pills at home without seeing doctor'

2 December 2019, 10:16

Women are already allowed to take the second medicine needed for an early medical abortion, misoprostol, at home
Women are already allowed to take the second medicine needed for an early medical abortion, misoprostol, at home. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Women should be able to take abortion pills at home without having to visit their GP, leading medics have said.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) says women should be able to get the tablets following an online chat, such as via Skype or FaceTime.

In one proposal, medics could give consent via the chat, with the women then able to collect the tablets from their nearest pharmacy.

Women are already allowed to take the second medicine needed for an early medical abortion, misoprostol, at home.

The RCOG’s new report, Better For Women, said the Department of Health and Social Care should also now consider allowing women to take the first drug, mifepristone, in their own home.

Professor Lesley Regan, president of the RCOG, said: "Our Better For Women report raises many important issues around women's healthcare, including easy access to contraception, abortion and fertility services.

"In 2018 the Department of Health and Social Care greatly improved women's experience of abortion care when it allowed women to take misoprostol, the second drug used to effect an early medical abortion, at home.

"Since then women no longer have to suffer the distress or embarrassment of bleeding and cramping pain during their journey home.

"In 2019 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) recommended greater use of online and telephone consultations to streamline the provision of abortion care.

"To support this new best practice guidance, the Department of Health and Social Care should also consider allowing women, after their assessment, to take mifepristone in the comfort and convenience of their own home.

"This would improve the accessibility of early medical abortion care for women, particularly for those who live in rural areas or those with child caring commitments."

RCOG medics also believe the current definition of "at home" is restrictive and should be widened.

For example, women without a fixed address may not qualify for the ability to take their abortion drugs at home.

The study also said the UK and devolved governments "must legislate to introduce access zones around abortion care providers" to stop women being harassed.

The report said: "All women should be able to access abortion care easily and without fear of penalties or harassment.

"The RCOG must continue to work with partner organisations to advocate for the decriminalisation of abortion up to 24 weeks across the UK."

In 2018, there were 200,608 abortions across England and Wales - an increase of 4 per cent on the previous year.

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