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Bid to change law on early medical abortions

13th January 2011

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) has said that women having an early medical abortion should be allowed to take some of their pills at home.

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The charity wants a change in the law to allow women to choose where to finish their treatment, rather than have to make two visits to a doctor to take the pills.

Early medical abortions see women seeking abortion in the first nine weeks of pregnancy take pills 24-48 hours apart to induce a miscarriage.

In some countries the pills are handed to women together, meaning they can control where the abortion takes place.

The BPAS is mounting a legal challenge to current abortion legislation.

The 1967 Abortion Act says treatment has to be given in a hospital or clinic but if the legal challenge is successful, clinics in England, Wales and Scotland would be able to give women both sets of pills at once.

The Department of Health is contesting the case as is the Conservative MP Nadine Dorries who fears it would send out a message that you can use abortion as contraception.

But BPAS chief executive Ann Furedi, said the charity wanted to give women greater choice over when and where their abortions occurred.

The action is supported by the Family Planning Association though the charity Life opposes the move and said: “BPAS’s intention is to increase access to abortion yet further, by making it little more than a pill-popping exercise”.

In 2009, around 70,000 women in England and Wales had early medical abortions, and there were 6,500 in Scotland.

 

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