Women can now permanently access abortion pills by post in England and Wales

Over the past two years, women and people seeking abortions in England and Wales have been able to access ‘pill after the fact’ abortions as part of COVID-19 measures introduced in spring 2020. This means that at Instead of going to a clinic to take the first two pills used to induce an abortion in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, patients can instead take the pills at home.

Since its introduction, the program has been used by more than 150,000 women (per The Guardian) and has been praised for making health care more accessible to thousands of people. Initially, the government intended to scrap the program on August 29, 2022, a move widely condemned by medical groups and women’s rights activists. However, on August 23, the UK Department of Health and Social Care confirmed that new legislation will allow women to continue to access the pills by post service; this law has just entered into force. In short, this means that people based in England and Wales looking to terminate pregnancies up to nine weeks and six days will now be able to access home abortion.

There is no upper or lower age limit for using abortion pills, but the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health will issue protective advice for those under 18 accessing medical abortion services early. The guidance should reinforce the principle that “every young person should have access to timely, early medical abortions” and that their “holistic and protective needs” should be taken into account.

The official continuation of the legislation came after MPs voted in favor of an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill in March this year to make the scheme a permanent fixture in England.

At the time, MSI Reproductive Choices Advocacy and Public Affairs Advisor Louise McCudden welcomed the decision, saying, “We’re thrilled MPs voted to keep the abortion care option. home. It was a vote for evidence rather than ideology, a vote for reproductive rights and a vote for gender equality. Making this safe and popular service a permanent option will especially benefit those who find it difficult to get to face-to-face appointments, including those in abusive relationships, those with family responsibilities and those who don’t have no means of transport. Everyone chooses abortion for different reasons and under different circumstances. It is important that we can offer options that take personal circumstances into account, and this includes taking both pills at home. »

A study published in February 2021 looked at 50,000 medical abortions and concluded that home abortion options were “effective, safe and acceptable”, while improving patients’ access to care.

Other research, published in the BMJ’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Journal, assessed the attitudes of 1,243 patients toward the telemedicine option, and found that patients reported having a high level of confidence in the option. of the pill by mail: “83% of patients said they preferred the telemedicine route, with 824 (66%) indicating that they would choose telemedicine again if COVID-19 was no longer an issue.

The scheme has already been made permanent in Wales, and the Scottish government is expected to follow suit.

Since the introduction of telemedicine abortion, research shows that inquiries made to illicit pill providers by women in the UK have dropped by 88%, suggesting that vulnerable women who may have previously used pills instead were able to access legal care and avoid criminalization. Additionally, an independent poll, conducted in December 2021 by Savanta ComRes, found that 65% of women across the UK want telemedicine to remain a permanent option.

Ahead of the vote, Dr Jonathan Lord, UK Medical Director of MSI Reproductive Choice, explained the importance of home abortion services, saying they had “reduced waiting times and provided greater choice, which which is especially vital for vulnerable clients, such as pregnant women and people in abusive relationships or anyone else who cannot safely come to a clinic. going to a hospital or clinic, often having to face the threat of anti-choice groups gathered outside, for the sole purpose of swallowing a pill, which can be safely taken at home.”

This post was originally posted in Charm UK.

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