Temporary measures allowing women in England who are up to ten weeks pregnant to take abortion pills at home may become permanent, a government minister has announced.
Lord Bethell, undersecretary at the Department of Health, said there would be a public consultation on “permanent home use of both pills for early medical abortion” before the current measures end in 18 months.
The temporary measures allowed women to receive both pills required for a termination at home after a phone consultation rather than a face-to-face clinic visit. The first pill, mifepristone, effectively starves the unborn baby by blocking the effects of the progesterone hormone, inducing a miscarriage. The second drug, misoprostol, is taken up to two days later and induces labour.
Previously, the first pill would be taken under medical supervision.
The measures were considered the first major U-turn by the government during the pandemic, after they initially ruled out at-home terminations.
The Sunday Mirror reports that the at-home abortion service has been used around 90,000 times since it was created.
In July, Labour MP Dame Diana Johnson tabled an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill to allow women in abusive relationships to access at-home abortions. The amendment was withdrawn, however, after criticism from several MPs, including former women’s minister Maria Miller, who described the amendment as “rushed” and “open to a great deal of misinterpretation”.
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