People in England who are less than ten weeks into pregnancy will soon be able to take the second of two abortion pills at home, rather than making two trips to a clinic to take the medication—a requirement that has proven untenable and dangerous for those who live far from a clinic.
England’s policy on medication abortion will change by the end of 2018, BBC News reports. The announcement was made Saturday.
Pregnant people today in England must take the two-pill abortion regimen at a clinic 24 to 48 hours apart. Being able to take the second pill at home is meant to ensure people’s pregnancies don’t end during their trip from the clinic back to their home. Claudia Craig, a woman whose pregnancy began to end on her way home after taking the second abortion pill, started the campaign for home availability of medication abortion in England.
“This decision by the government will enable tens of thousands of women each year to complete their treatment in the comfort and privacy of their own home,” Richard Bentley, managing director at Marie Stopes UK, a reproductive rights charity that provides abortion services, said in a statement. “There is no clinical reason why this shouldn’t happen.”
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Lesley Regan, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said in a statement that the medication abortion policy shift constitutes a “simple and practical measure will provide women with significantly more choice and is the most compassionate care we can give them.”
“It will allow women to avoid distress and embarrassment of bleeding and pain during their journey home from an unnecessary second visit to a clinic or hospital,” Regan said. “It will also improve access to safe and regulated abortion care and take pressure off [National Health Service] services.”
The first drug in the medication abortion regimen, mifepristone, blocks the hormone progesterone, causing the uterus lining to break down so the pregnancy can’t continue. The second drug, misoprostol, which causes cramps and heavy bleeding, induces contractions and ends the pregnancy.
There are around 180,000 abortions in England every year, with medication abortion the most common method, according to the BBC. Medication abortion in the United States has been found to be safe and effective, as a congressional watchdog agency found this year.