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Friday, 29 June 2018

Women in Wales to be allowed to take second termination drug at home

Written by Jennifer Cockerell

Women in Wales are to be allowed to take the second abortion pill at home.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said the move will increase choice for women and reduce the burden on clinical resources.

Guidance will be issued to health boards in Wales from Friday on allowing misoprostol, the second medication needed in a medical termination, to be self-administered at home.

Women meeting the inclusion criteria will be required to attend a clinic for the administration of mifepristone, the first medication.

They will then have the option of being discharged home to self-administer the second medication, misoprostol, but they will still be able to attend a clinic if they prefer.

The change in practice, which was also made in Scotland last year, follows advice from clinicians and women's groups.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas), which has long campaigned for the move, said it welcomed the decision, which is endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and added that it was now time for England to follow suit.

A spokeswoman said it means women do not have to attend "multiple, clinically unnecessary appointments and rush home from a clinic after taking the pills, risking pain and bleeding en route".

"Wales is introducing safe, evidence-based medical care that will benefit women needing abortion care and we applaud the Welsh Government for moving forward with this simple measure that will mean so much," she added.

"It is now time for the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to ensure women in England can access the same standard of care."

Diana Johnson, Labour MP for Hull North, who introduced a Bill last year to decriminalise abortion up to 24 weeks in England and Wales, said: "Allowing the home use of misoprostol will ensure that medical abortions are carried out with the maximum dignity for a woman.

"I have heard dreadful stories of women who are currently required to visit a clinic twice and have miscarried on public transport or in public toilets on the way home.

"Scotland has led the way on this and Wales is now recognising this is both clinically the right thing to do and in the interest of women.

"It's now time for England to put women's healthcare needs at the heart of abortion provision."

Mr Gething said: "I am pleased to announce that the approval, allowing the second dose of medicine for termination of pregnancy to be carried out at home, has been issued to health boards today.

"This change in practice offers additional choice to women requesting an abortion and enables them to complete treatment in an environment where they feel most comfortable.

"It will also reduce the burden currently placed on clinical resources, increase the availability of appointments for women who want to access termination of pregnancy services, and enable a greater number of women to access abortion provision at an earlier point in their pregnancy."

Helen Rogers, director for Wales at the Royal College of Midwives, said: "This is a sensible and practical move by the Welsh Government. It enables women to have more choice and control over their own reproductive health and well-being.

"It is a welcome announcement that will make a significant difference to women using these services."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Katie Collins / PA Wire.