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At-home early abortion scheme to continue in England


early abortion scheme


MPs have voted to continue the at-home early medical abortion scheme after the Government proposed scrapping it later this year.

The scheme which was introduced in the pandemic provides a telemedicine service for those requiring a medical abortion before 10-weeks’ gestation who can then take both pills at home.

Earlier this month there was an outcry from medical organisations and women’s health campaigners after the Government announced it was going to drop the scheme in the autumn after considering consultation responses.

But in a free vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday (30 March), MPs voted 215 to 188 to keep the service going.

Those who campaigned against plans to abandon the service welcomed the news that MPs had voted to maintain at-home early abortion medical care after an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill was tabled.

Clare Murphy, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), said:

‘We are absolutely delighted that MPs followed the evidence and above all listened to women when they voted for the continuation of this service.

‘Early abortion at home is safe, effective and an important option for women. We look forward to being able to provide this service into the future and are incredibly grateful to all the parliamentarians who championed it.’

Earlier this month the Government announced it would continue the scheme for six months but then return to pre-pandemic arrangements of women having to attend in person.

They had noted that in the consultation responses a number of concerns had been raised about safety.

Organisations including the BMA and Academy of Royal Medical Colleges had issued strong objections to plans to withdraw the scheme pointing to research that had shown the telemedicine service had provided safe and effective care and had been recommended by NICE.

The BMA had also raised concerns about those being at greatest risk of harm, including victims of domestic abuse being impacted should the service stop.

Wales had already agreed to make the scheme permanent and there are similar plans in Scotland.

Around 150,000 women have used the at-home service since it began in 2020.

Another vote on health bill amendments yesterday saw Tory MPs reject proposals for the Government to increase NHS workforce transparency.

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