Women are illegally buying abortion pills online so they can take them at home to avoid cramps or bleeding after leaving the hospital as experts call for a change to the law in England
- In England, two abortion pills must be administered in a clinic or hospital
- Royal College calls on Department of Health to allow drugs to be taken at home
- Such a law was recently passed in Scotland and Wales but not in England
- Department of Health is assessing abortion pills’ safety and effectiveness
- Almost 10,000 pills heading to the UK have been seized in the past three years
Women are illegally buying abortion pills online so they can take them in the comfort of their own homes.
In England, women are required to take two tablets in a clinic or hospital supervised by a nurse.
On their journeys home from hospital, many have endured cramps and bleeding, with some even suffering diarrhoea while on public transport.
Speaking on the BBC’s flagship Victoria Derbyshire show, the president of The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) called on the Department of Health to allow women to take such medication at home, like they can in Scotland and Wales.
The Department of Health is assessing abortion pills’ safety and effectiveness when taken at home. It is unclear when a decision may be made.
Over the past three years, almost 10,000 abortion pill sets heading to the UK have been seized by drug enforcement officers, according to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
Women are illegally buying abortion pills online so they can take them at home (stock)
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Taking the second pill at home is ‘safe’ and ‘highly effective’
RCOG’s president, Professor Lesley Regan, told the Victoria Derbyshire show: ‘We know that when women are allowed to take the second tablet at home that it is safe, it’s highly effective and they much, much prefer it.’
The World Health Organization also recommends home use of such medication.
Kate Guthrie, who works for Women on Web, which helps those who want to buy abortion pills online, claims more than 2,000 women have contacted her for help in the past 18 months.
Many of these women are single mothers who struggle to get to clinics, while others live long distances from their nearest hospital.
Since Scotland changed the law, allowing women to take abortion pills at home, four out of five have chosen to do so.
Dr Sharon Cameron, from NHS Lothian, said those taking the medication at home have not suffered more complications.
On their journeys home from hospital, many have endured cramps and bleeding, with some even suffering diarrhoea while on public transport (stock)
‘No justification’ to denying women pills at home
Earlier this month, experts from the RCOG demanded that the then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt allow women ‘compassion, respect and dignity’.
Writing in the BMJ, they said: ‘There can be no justification not to act unless the aim is to punish women having a legal abortion.’
Professor Regan added: ‘The need for the second visit to the clinic frequently acts as a barrier to women accessing safe, regulated abortion care, and is medically unnecessary and incurs significant NHS costs.
‘Many women also experience the distress and embarrassment of bleeding and cramping during their journey home.’
Pro-life campaigners claim pills ‘betray unborn babies’
Following calls on now Health Secretary Matt Hancock to make at-home abortion pills legal in England, pro-life campaigners claim it would be akin to licensing ‘DIY’ or ‘back-street’ procedures.
Dr Anthony McCarthy, from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said: ‘It is scandalous that medics in league with the abortion industry should rush to betray women and their unborn babies.
‘Not only can medical abortion be very painful physically, but it can sometimes lead to women bleeding to death.’
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has taken the Scottish Government to court over the new policy, with a decision due within weeks.
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