Abortions under nine weeks to become more widely available
Early abortions will be available at GP surgeries across England by spring, after NHS trusts have said they plan to increase the service.
The procedure can be carried out with drugs as opposed to surgery before nine weeks and after two successful Government pilots set up outside traditional hospitals were found to be safe, more clinics are to be established.
Currently the pills can only be administered at licensed sites such as hospitals, approved NHS providers and private clinics.
Abortion charities have welcomed the news saying the policy change will mean terminations are easier and more convenient for women who are under nine weeks pregnant and want an abortion.
It has not been confirmed whether GPs themselves will provide the service and may be offered by independent sector organisations, operating from polyclinics, health centres, family planning clinics and doctors’ surgeries.
Critics have condemned the move, saying it will prompt a rise in the number of abortions, which currently stand at 200,000 a year in England and Wales.
A spokesman for antiabortion group Alive and Kicking said: ‘This is an extraordinary response to what should be seen as a huge problem – that we have the highest rates of abortion in Western Europe.
‘This is going to make it easier for women to have an abortion without counselling. More and more women will have abortions in haste, wake up and then regret it.’
A Department of Health spokesman responded saying: ‘Providing early medical abortions in a community setting is about increasing the choice of method and locations for abortions, and improving early access to abortions, as evidence shows that earlier abortions carry less risk of complications.
‘It is not about increasing the number of abortions.’