Push for women to carry out early medical abortions at home

Amendments are to be put forward to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill to allow women to carry out early medical abortions (EMAs) in their own homes.

An EMA is defined as a non-surgical termination of an early pregnancy before 63 days using a combination of the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol.

Current law states that women must make two visits to a hospital with the second visit solely because the law specifies that an abortion may only be carried out in hospitals or a specially approved location.

But Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, told delegates at the Future of Abortion conference in central London yesterday that the current law hindered women from accessing EMAs because it was framed in the 1960s when modern treatments such as abortion drugs for home use were not available.

She added: ‘Women should not have to make two trips to an abortion service. Instead they should be able to take the medication home and be followed up with telephone support.'

Health minister Dawn Primarolo, added that there had been a shift towards EMAs with 35 per cent of all abortion in 2007 being EMAs.

But she warned that it was important to make sure that women felt safe about having an EMA outside of hospital.
‘For this reason we will be seeking views on this and on a draft protocol with service providers and users, before we move ahead,' she said.

Amendments will also be put forward to allow EMAs to be carried out in community settings such as polyclinics and GP surgeries and to remove the need for two doctors' signatures when agreeing an abortion. The amendments are expected to be put forward early next month.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

Future of Abortion website

Editors blog: Why is Britain teetering on the verge of becoming the abortion capital of the world?

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