Experts want to mark the end of seeing doctors face-to-face
Women wishing to have an abortion should be able to take abortion pills at home, without seeing a doctor face-to-face. This is what leading medics are saying in a new report, and they are calling on health bosses to make this a reality in our future.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) wants women to be able to collect the abortion pills from their local pharmacy – following an online chat with their GP such as via Skype or FaceTime. This would avoid seeing doctors altogether and be a huge change to our healthcare system.
In 2018, there were 200,608 abortions across England and Wales — up four per cent on the previous year. Women are currently allowed to take the second medicine needed for an early medical abortion, misoprostol, at home – but not the first drug mifepristone.
The recommendation was made in an RCOG report, called Better for Women, saying: ‘All women should be able to access abortion care easily and without fear of penalties or harassment.’
Professor Lesley Regan, president of the RCOG, said, ‘In 2018 the Department of Health and Social Care greatly improved women’s experience of abortion care when it allowed women to take misoprostol, the second drug used to effect an early medical abortion, at home. Since then women no longer have to suffer the distress or embarrassment of bleeding and cramping pain during their journey home.
‘In 2019 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) recommended greater use of online and telephone consultations to streamline the provision of abortion care.
‘To support this new best practice guidance, the Department of Health and Social Care should also consider allowing women, after their assessment, to take mifepristone in the comfort and convenience of their own home.
‘This would improve the accessibility of early medical abortion care for women, particularly for those who live in rural areas or those with child caring commitments.’
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A survey of more than 3,000 women which accompanied the RCOG report found that many are struggling to find basic services around contraception, abortion care and the menopause. Nearly four in ten said they were unable to access contraception services and six in ten cannot access unplanned pregnancy services, including abortion care, locally.
The RCOG has called for one-stop women’s health clinics to be set up to provide healthcare needs for women. In the technology era we are living in, making care access easier.