Pandemic Early Abortion Access Changes Will Be Removed By Fall
Several medical organizations have issued strong objections to a government decision to drop temporary pandemic rule changes allowing early medical abortions at home without being seen in a clinic.
Women requiring a medical abortion before 10 weeks of gestation could for two years take the two pills at home thanks to a telemedicine service.
After a long consultation, the government said it would extend the measures for another six months but after that, we would go back to the pre-pandemic system of having to show up in person.
In a written statement, Minister for Vaccines and Public Health Maggie Throup confirmed that the temporary approval would end on August 29, 2022.
She said: “This temporary measure has been put in place at the onset of a public health emergency, to address a specific and acute medical need, reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19 and ensure continued access to medical services. ‘abortion.”
She added that after careful consideration, the Government’s advice had been to revert to pre-Covid arrangements.
“The well-being and safety of women who need to access abortion services has been and will continue to be our first priority,” she said.
In responses to the consultation released last month, a number of concerns were raised about security, the government said.
But medical schools and other organisations, including the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and the BMA, issued strong statements disagreeing with the decision, which would impact the most vulnerable.
They pointed to research from February 2021 showing that the temporary approval of the telemedicine service had provided safe and effective care.
In a statement, the Board of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said it supported the permanent implementation of telemedicine for early medical abortion and called on the UK government to continue provision alongside appointments indefinitely. face to face.
He said: “The telemedicine service, which has been recommended by NICE as best practice in abortion care, has proven to be a safe and effective way to empower women to have more control and choice to access early medical abortion.
“Women have also made clear their support for the service to be a permanent option in their health care, with research published in the British medical journal showing that 89% of women who used the telemedicine service would choose to seek care at home again if they needed another abortion.
The service has enabled increased access to abortion services, improved wait times and a more accessible pathway for people in vulnerable situations, including abusive relationships, the Academy added.
The statement adds that the protection of women and girls seeking abortions was of “paramount importance” to health care providers.
It said: “Telemedicine care for [early medical abortion] has been one of the few success stories of the pandemic, where barriers have been removed to enable women to access an essential form of healthcare.
“Failure to renew this service will result in longer wait times for women and unnecessary pressure on health care providers.”
Clare Murphy, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, BPAS, said they and others would keep telling the government that cutting access to early medical abortion care at home would be disastrous for women and deliberately ignores the vast body of clinical evidence. which demonstrates that it is safe and effective.
“Revoking abortion care via telemedicine would force vulnerable women in the most difficult circumstances, who cannot access in-clinic treatment, to revert to illegal methods and face criminal penalties as a result,” she said.
Dr Zoe Greaves, chair of the BMA’s medical ethics committee, said the decision to end the option of telemedicine for abortion, but the well-being and safety of women at risk.
She said: “Telemedicine has improved the clinical safety of abortion services by reducing waiting times and ensuring that difficulties women have in accessing services do not delay care.
“Those most affected by this change will be those at greatest risk of harm, including women victims of sexual violence or domestic violence, and financially vulnerable people. It’s a decision that puts politics ahead of women’s health.
In October, a large UK study found that women with hyperemesis during pregnancy found it difficult to access treatment, with 52% of them having to consider terminating their pregnancies and more than a quarter consider suicide.