Nadia Ferrari
01/04/2020

Coronavirus: Women will be able to have home abortion after phone or online consultation

New rules welcomed by Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist

Por Zoe Tidman, para Independent

 

Women will be able to have an abortion without leaving their house during the coronavirus outbreak, the government has said — around a week after doing a U-turn on plans to make abortions more accessible. 

Pills to terminate a pregnancy can be taken at home after a phone or online consultation with a doctor under new guidance, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said.

 “This measure will be on a temporary basis,” according to a spokesperson.
 The new rules mark the government’s third stance on the issue in around a week, after they retracted plans to let women take abortion pills at home during the pandemic shortly after they were announced.
 
 “This was published in error,” a DHSC spokesperson told The Independent at the time. “There will be no changes to abortion regulations.”
 
The UK had been urged to change its rules during the outbreak, which has seen all non-essential travel banned as the country tries to limit the spread of the virus. 

Pregnant women have been advised to take particular care to follow social distancing measures as they are at increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19, according to government guidance.

On Monday, the DHSC said: “We are updating our guidance so women who need an abortion up to 10 weeks and can’t access a clinic can use abortion pills at home.”

 It will only be a temporary measure and women must have a remote consultation with a doctor first, according to the department.

A DHSC spokesperson said: “We will set out the next steps, including updated guidance, shortly.”

The department has been approached for comment by The Independent as to whether all pregnant women up to ten weeks would automatically be eligible during the coronavirus outbreak. 

The new rules were welcomed by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, who said they would “reduce pressure on the health system” and “limit Covid-19 risk for women and health workers”.

It would also “ensure safe and timely access to abortion care”, the organisation tweeted

A number of groups — including the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service — have pushed for new measures to stop pregnant women from having to go to a hospital or a clinic in order to get an abortion during the pandemic. 

In a recent letter to Matt Hancock, the health secretary, the thirteen organisations who signed said: “In normal circumstances, this aspect of the law may be clinically unnecessary but it is the law nonetheless and we make the best of the situation.

“In the current circumstances with Covid-19 meaning doctors are self-isolating or off sick and the NHS under immense pressure, it wastes valuable time, puts everyone at greater risk of spreading or contracting coronavirus and risks our ability to provide abortion care at all.” 

The DHSC has been approached for comment about the new measure in light of last week’s U-turn. 

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