Abortion Rights Blog

The national pro-choice campaign

Abortion Rights responds to High Court ruling on early abortion medication

Abortion Rights is extremely disappointed that the High Court has rejected the British Pregnancy Advisory Service’s application to allow the second stage of Early Medical Abortion medication to be taken at home (14.02.11).

This small amendment to the 1967 Abortion Act would have made the experience of Early Medical Abortion safer and more straightforward for thousands of British women every year, and would have brought England, Scotland and Wales in line with advances in medical science and international best practice.

Women seeking medical abortion up to nine weeks of pregnancy currently have to make multiple trips to a clinic or hospital in order to take both doses of medication on site, 24 to 48 hours apart. As a result, they face the anxiety and danger of abortion symptoms starting as they travel home from the clinic. 

Allowing women to self administer the second dose of medication in their own home if they choose, and with appropriate clinical support available, would eliminate this risk and would make the experience of medical abortion less distressing and onerous.

Such practice is supported by evidence from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and by evidence from countries such as France, Sweden and the USA where self-administration is standard practice.

A move to self-administration would not loosen existing abortion law nor would it encourage more women to seek terminations, but would simply protect women who have already decided to proceed with termination. 

We believe that there is no medically or ethically justifiable reason for not supporting such a move.

Abortion Rights is pleased, however, that the High Court has ruled that the law allows the Secretary of State to respond to “changes in medical science” and approve a woman’s home as a ‘class of place’ for abortion. We urge Andrew Lansley to act on this ruling immediately to ensure that women seeking medical abortion receive the best possible standard of care.

BPAS press release