bpas comment on Welsh decision to allow the home use of misoprostol

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service warmly welcomes the change in regulations in Wales to enable women to take the second medication needed for an Early Medical Abortion at home.  The use of misoprostol at home for early abortion is safe and standard practice around the world, including in Scotland, and endorsed by the World Health Organisation. It means women do not have to attend multiple, clinically unnecessary appointments and rush home from a clinic after taking the pills, risking pain and bleeding en route. It also means they can take the medication at the time that is best for them, in the privacy of their own home. For this reason, women using this medication for the treatment of missed miscarriage have long been allowed to use the pills at home.   Bpas has campaigned for many years for the same dignity to be extended to women undergoing early abortion, and in 2011 brought a legal challenge to enable women to use misoprostol at home which failed after being contested by the Department of Health.

Clare Murphy, Director of External Affairs at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said:

“Wales is introducing safe, evidence-based medical care that will benefit women needing abortion care, and we applaud the Welsh government for moving forward with this simple measure that will mean so much. It is now time for the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to ensure women in England can access the same standard of care. There is no clinical reason to deny women the option of using this medication at home - it is safe and effective to do so – which means the only grounds for refusing this are political.  It makes no sense to us that our Welsh clinics will now be able to let women go home with the pills to take in their own time, when they feel safe and comfortable, while just a few miles women will still be compelled to take the pills in the clinic before rushing to get home – often on public transport - before cramping and bleeding begins. We urge Mr Hunt to respect the needs and dignity of women at what can be a challenging time in their lives, and follow his Scottish and Welsh counterparts in authorising home use. Home use of misoprostol for early abortion is not controversial – but denying women safe, evidence-based healthcare certainly should be.  The power to make this simple change lies with Mr Hunt, and we ask him to use it.”

Diana Johnson, Labour MP for Hull North, who introduced a bill last year to decriminalise abortion up to 24 weeks in England and Wales, said:

“Allowing the home use of misoprostol will ensure that medical abortions are carried out with the maximum dignity for a woman. I have heard dreadful stories of women who are currently required to visit a clinic twice and have miscarried on public transport or in public toilets on the way home. Scotland has led the way on this and Wales is now recognising this is both clinically the right thing to do and in the interest of women. It’s now time for England to put women’s healthcare needs at the heart of abortion provision.”

ENDS

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Notes to Editors:

About bpas

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.