Women to have permanent access to at-home abortion services in England and Wales

Credit: PA

So-called “pills by post” which enable women to end early-stage pregnancies from home will be made permanently accessible across England and Wales from the end of the month.

Pregnant women will be able to permanently access early medical abortions in their homes from August 30 following a teleconsultation, the government said.

The government first enabled women to have early medical abortions at home, by taking two pills, when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

It changed the regulations during the first coronavirus lockdown in March 2020 as a temporary measure.

But in March this year MPs voted to retain the at-home service, which has become the most popular option.

It follows Wales’ health minister announcing in February, following a consultation, that early abortions at home were being made permanent.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the Abortion Act is being amended to allow permanent access to remote early medical abortions.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...

These involve two pills being taken at home within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Doctors must certify in “good faith” that the gestation period is below 10 weeks, the DHSC said.

They will also be required to record information on place of termination, place of consultation, and whether the consultation was fully remote.

This additional data will allow for analysis of trends in abortion provision and better understanding of the use of remote services.

The DHSC said national safeguarding guidance will be published shortly by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health concerning under-18s accessing early medical abortions.

This is to ensure the “continued safety of children and young people”.

The DHSC also said it has reapproved all independent sector abortion clinics in England, with these approvals valid for the next four years.

Minister for Public Health, Maggie Throup, said: “The wellbeing and safety of women requiring access to abortion services is paramount.

“With these measures women will have more choice in how and where they access abortion services, while ensuring robust data is collected to ensure their continued safety.”