The British government has apparently changed its position for the third time in less than a week and allowed chemical abortions to be completed entirely at home after telephone or video consultation.
The government first announced the change last Monday, but then reversed the decision the following day, saying the guidance had been “published in error”. “There will be no changes to abortion regulations,” a spokesperson for the Department of Health said at the time.
Now the government has reportedly changed its mind once again. According to the Daily Mail, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said on Sunday night: “Public safety and continued access to key services is our priority during this difficult period.
“We are updating our guidance so women who need an abortion up to ten weeks and can’t access a clinic can use abortion pills at home. This will be on a temporary basis and must follow a telephone or e-consultation with a doctor.”
A chemical abortion, sometimes called a medical abortion, involves taking two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, up to two days apart.
Currently, a woman who wants a chemical abortion must take the first pill under medical supervision, but since 2018 has been allowed to take the second pill at home.
Pro-life group Life condemned the government’s latest decision. “It is unconscionable that the Government is contradicting their stance, yet again, to allow women to be taking both stages of the medical abortion at home,” said Liz Parsons, the group’s Director of Advocacy.
“It is an absolute disgrace that the abortion lobby should take advantage of the terrible situation we find ourselves in, with Covid-19, to instigate the biggest change to the 1967 Abortion Act we’ve seen in years, without any public consultation.
“These significant changes will make it nearly impossible to discover underlying mental health issues, coercion or abuse, leaving these women without the real help and support they desperately need. At this time our nation is rightly focussed on how we can protect vulnerable people and save as many lives as possible; a U-turn would contradict everything this lockdown stands for and would pull focus from what should be our priority – saving lives.”