This sees the biggest change to abortion care since 1967.
The House of Commons met yesterday to vote on an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill that would permanently allow at-home abortion services (telemedicine) in England.
In a huge win for pro-choice campaigners, the amendment passed.
Telemedical abortion was made available during the pandemic, and has since given hundreds of thousands of women in Britain access to safe abortions from the comfort and privacy of their own homes.
With the NHS still stretched to capacity, the case for telemedicine to be made permanently available was a popular one. In fact, a recent poll by Savanta ComRes reported 65% women across the UK wanted telemedicine to remain a permanent option beyond the pandemic.
But in a regressive move earlier this year, the Government controversially decided to put an end to at-home abortion services.
Telemedicine services were therefore set to end on 29 August 2022, following a six-month extension by the Government while they kept the issue “under review”.
After that time, at-home abortion was feared not to be an option, rolling back the clock on abortion rights.
Since the introduction of telemedicine, research shows that requests to illicit providers for illegal abortion pills have fallen by 88%, with vulnerable women now able to access legal care.
Women’s rights organisations fought back against the government’s controversial decision, especially given that at-home abortion services are permanently available in Wales, with the Scottish government also expected to soon follow suit.
They argued that it is therefore “entirely inconsistent and unconscionable for English women and pregnant people to be unable to access a service that has been the single biggest positive revolution in abortion rights in the UK since the 1967 Abortion Act.”
Last week, Baroness Liz Sugg helped to pass an amendment to the upcoming Health and Social care bill that would make telemedicine permanent. And yesterday, it was passed in a vote at the House of Commons.
This marks the biggest change to abortion care since 1967.
MSI Reproductive Choices’ UK Advocacy and Public Affairs Advisor Louise McCudden released a statement ahead of the vote.
“We are delighted that MPs have voted to keep the option of at-home abortion care,” she announced. “This was a vote for evidence over ideology, a vote for reproductive rights, and a vote for gender equality.”
She continued: “Making this safe and popular service a permanent option will particularly benefit those who struggle to attend face-to-face appointments, including those in abusive relationships, those with caring responsibilities, and those without transport.
“Everyone chooses abortion for different reasons and under different circumstances. It is important that we can offer options that take into account personal circumstances – and that includes taking both pills at home.
“Trusting people to make these choices for themselves is a vital part of how MSI delivers high quality, responsive care for anyone who needs us.”
We will continue to update this story.