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Government will approve home-use of early abortion pills

Women in England will be allowed to take the second of two early medical abortion pills in their own home

Ingrid Torjesen

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

The government has announced that it will legalise the home-use of early medical abortion pills in England by the end of the year.

Under the new plans, women will be allowed to take the second of two early abortion pills at home if they wish. Four in ten terminations are early medical abortions, carried out under 10 weeks gestation.

The current system requires women to take both pills, mifepristone and misoprostol, 24 to 48 hours apart in a clinic to end an early pregnancy before 10 weeks gestation. Women leave the clinic after taking the second pill and pass the pregnancy at home. The two visits can be difficult to organise and often uncomfortable or traumatic, and in some cases women can begin to miscarry before they have reached their home.

Chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies said: “Abortion can be a difficult experience so it is important that women feel safe and as comfortable as possible. This decision will increase choice for women and help ensure they receive safe and dignified care.”

Safeguards will be introduced to protect women undergoing this treatment at home, and the Department of Health and Social Care will work closely with partners in the health system, including the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), to develop clinical guidance for all professionals to follow when providing the treatment option to patients.

Professor Lesley Regan, president of RCOG, said: “Today’s announcement that use of misoprostol at home will be allowed in England is hugely welcomed and a major step forward for women’s healthcare.

“This simple and practical measure will provide women with significantly more choice and is the most compassionate care we can give them.

“It will allow women to avoid distress and embarrassment of bleeding and pain during their journey home from an unnecessary second visit to a clinic or hospital. It will also improve access to safe and regulated abortion care and take pressure off NHS services.”

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