Women will be forced into illegal abortions if the government does not extend rules allowing abortion pills to be taken at home, doctors have warned.
Healthcare providers at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG) and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health Care (FSRH) are concerned about plans to scrap rules put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic .
Before the pandemic, women could only take abortion drugs in a hospital or clinic. However, regulations were temporarily relaxed in March 2020 in England, Scotland and Wales to avoid spreading the virus.
The change meant that people in early pregnancy could take abortion pills at home after a telephone consultation.
According to figures released by the Department of Health and Social Care, of the more than 100,000 abortions performed in England and Wales between January and June 2020, 82% were medical abortions.
After former Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the change in abortion rules, medical abortions at home jumped to 88% in April 2020, from 78% the previous month. The amended rules are due to expire on March 30.
A poll of over 1,100 women conducted by Savanta Com-Res for the FSRH last December found that the majority (65%) of women in the UK want telemedicine for early medical abortion to become a permanent option .
Dr. Asha Kasliwal, President of FSRH, said in a statement: “It is not a matter of choosing between face-to-face and remote consultations; it’s about making sure all options are available so patients can get the best treatment that fits their needs and preferences.
“We can hear the voices of women in these results. There is no reason for governments to delay making telemedicine for early medical abortion a permanent feature of healthcare.
“We urge UK governments to listen to women and pass regulations allowing telemedicine abortion services to become permanent.”
RCOG Chairman Dr Edward Morris added there was “no medical justification” for withdrawing the service.
He said The temperature“If providers are unable to cope with running a face-to-face service, women and girls will not be able to access the life-saving health services they need, which could force them to access illegal methods of abortion.”
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said The Independent“We are committed to maintaining a safe and caring environment for all women who need an abortion.
“The current temporary measures allow eligible women to use both pills for early medical abortion – which is up to 10 weeks gestation – at home. We will announce our decision on the future of these arrangements as soon as possible.