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BPAS comment on 2021 Scotland abortion statistics

BPAS comment on abortion statistics released today by Public Health Scotland

Clare Murphy, Chief Executive of BPAS, said:

“Today’s report makes it clear that the women of Scotland face significant disparities with regards to access to telemedicine. Despite the positive rollout of telemedicine in key health boards such as Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and Lothian, we are deeply concerned that for many women in Scotland the home use of abortion medication simply isn’t an option. In five health boards, home to more than 325,000 women of reproductive age, less than 5% of all abortions have been undertaken using the safe, effective, legal method of taking mifepristone and misoprostol at home. That’s nearly 1/3rd of abortions in Scotland where the most preferred method of abortion for women is simply not offered.

“An extensive body of clinical evidence has demonstrated that at-home early medical abortion care via telemedicine is safe, effective, and preferred by many women. The ability to access care from home without having to travel to a clinic has brought down the average gestation at which women are ending pregnancies, and while abortion is safer than continuing a pregnancy at any gestation, the risk of complications are lower the earlier in pregnancy a woman can access abortion care. In Scotland, 90% of abortions took place before 10 weeks’ gestation. The most noticeable impact has been on the islands – Orkney, Shetland, and Na-h Eileanan Siar (Western Isles) where terminations at the earliest gestations have increased from 66.2% to 84.8% of the total. The Scottish government need to act to ensure all women can access this world-leading service. 

“All women who are legally entitled to an abortion should be able to access care as swiftly and as close to home as possible. Unfortunately, at BPAS we regularly treat women from Scotland at clinics in England who were unable to access abortion care locally. Since the pandemic began, we are seeing around one woman from Scotland every week who has had to travel to England.

“Nicola Sturgeon has committed to holding an emergency summit on access to abortion care in Scotland. It is clear that there is much work to be done to ensure that all women in Scotland are able to access high-quality abortion care that they deserve.”

ENDS

The full report from Public Health Scotland, Termination of pregnancy statistics: Year ending December 2021, is online here.

For further information, please contact Katherine O’Brien, BPAS Associate Director of Campaigns and Communications, on katherine.o’brien@bpas.org or 07881 265276.

About BPAS

BPAS is a charity that sees over 100,000 women a year for reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception at clinics across Great Britain. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. BPAS also runs the Centre for Reproductive Research and Communication, which seeks to develop and deliver a research agenda that furthers women’s access to evidence-based reproductive healthcare, driven by an understanding of women’s perspectives and needs. You can find out more here: https://www.bpas.org/get-involved/centre-for-reproductive-research-communication/

In 2021, BPAS launched BPAS Fertility, England's first not-for-profit fertility service, to provide ethical, evidence-based, person-centred care that supports patients. We provide a safe, high-quality, and accessible service, without profiteering from patients. Our service gives those ineligible for NHS funding an affordable option to access the care they need.