Ann Furedi, Chief Executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, bpas, said:
“The Secretary of State’s refusal to allow women in England to take abortion pills at home is an entirely political, not clinical, decision. We agree with healthcare leaders that in forcing women to make multiple clinic visits to obtain the medication they need, Jeremy Hunt is punishing women who have an abortion. It is illogical and profoundly unfair that women in Wales and Scotland will be able to go home with the pills to take in their own time, when they feel safe and comfortable, while just a few miles away women in England will still be compelled to take the same medication in the clinic, before rushing to get home before bleeding and cramping begins. It makes no sense that in a bpas clinic in England, we can give a woman experiencing incomplete miscarriage the medication to take home, but the woman needing an abortion sitting next to her in the waiting room must take the same medication in front of us before hurrying home. The evidence on the safety of home use is overwhelming, and has been for many years.
“Not only would home use improve the care that women receive, but it could also reduce the number of women seeking abortion pills online, illegally, who risk up to life imprisonment under our archaic abortion law. A study published last year found that around half of women in Great Britain who request abortion pills online do so because they feel they cannot access legal services, for reasons including geographical distance and childcare commitments. By allowing the home use of abortion medication, and therefore reducing the need for multiple clinic visits, legal services will become more accessible to vulnerable women, who might otherwise put themselves at risk of criminalisation.
“Jeremy Hunt has the power to make this simple, straightforward change today. Home use is standard practice in many other countries, including France and Sweden, and has been proven to be safe, effective, and preferred by women. We urge the Secretary of State to respect women’s health and wellbeing, listen to the voices of the medical experts, and permit the home use of abortion medication as a matter of urgency.”
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Notes to Editors:
bpas is a charity which sees more than 70,000 women a year and provides reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. More information can be found at bpas.org.