Medical Abortions: England to Fall In Line with Scotland, Sweden and France

Medical Abortions: England to Fall In Line with Scotland, Sweden and France

England will fall into line with Scotland, Wales, Sweden and France by allowing women to take the second early-abortion pill at home. 

The new plans are due to take effect by the end of the year. The aim is to limit the risk of miscarrying on a journey home from the clinic whilst simultaneously ensuring the well-being of patients. 

Currently, women ending pregnancies via medical abortion within the first 10 weeks must take two pills at a clinic, 24 to 48 hours apart. 

Although women will still have the choice to take the second pill at a clinic, this move has been welcomed by many, including those in the medical field. 

Professor Lesley Regan has said "This simple and practical measure will provide women with significantly more choice and is the most compassionate care we can give them...it will also improve access to safe and regulated abortion care and take pressure off NHS services."

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies said: "Abortion can be a difficult experience so it is important that women feel safe and as comfortable as possible. This decision will increase choice for women and help ensure they receive safe and dignified care". 

Approximately 193,000 individuals had an abortion in 2017 with four out of five of these carried out before the 10 week period. Thus, the majority of patients will have the option to benefit from the new changes. 

How does it work?

There are several abortion methods utilised in England. The method above, commonly known as the "abortion pill" method is called a medical abortion. 

  •  The first pill one takes during a medical abortion is mifepristone – this stops the hormone that allows the pregnancy to continue working. (NHS). 
  •   24 or 48 hours later a second pill (misoprostol) needs to be taken. Within, four to six hours, the lining of the womb will break down, causing bleeding and loss of the pregnancy. 
  • Currently both pills must be taken at a clinic,  yet the 2 visits can be difficult to organise and are often uncomfortable or traumatic. 

For more information about abortion in the U.K. please visit the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) website. 

Abortion has been legal in England, Scotland and Wales since 1967. However, it is still illegal in Northern Ireland under 1861 and 1945 legislation. 

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