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At-home abortions become permanently available in England and Wales

From today, at-home abortion pills have become permanently available in England and Wales. Humanists UK has welcomed the development.

Abortion pills can be taken by those less than 10 weeks pregnant, to terminate a pregnancy. In the past, they had to be taken in a medical setting. But in 2020, as a result of the pandemic, England, Scotland, and Wales made it possible to take them at home.

The move was successful in reducing the risk of Covid-19 transmission. But it also abortions safer and more accessible. A study of more than 50,000 abortions before and after the change, published by the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 2021, concluded that at-home abortion provision is ‘effective, safe, acceptable, and improves access to care’. As a result of these findings, all major medical bodies backed at-home abortions becoming permanently available.

The Welsh and Scottish Governments then announced they would do just this. But in England, the UK Government decided to consult on the matter first. Humanists UK responded to the consultation. Most respondents supported permanent provision, but nonetheless, in February, the Government announced that it would bring provision to an end.

This prompted a vote in the House of Commons. Most MPs voted in favour of keeping the provision – thus overturning the Government’s decision. That vote has now come into force, in both England and Wales.

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented:

‘We’re delighted that at-home abortion provision has become a permanent option for women and girls. The evidence shows that such provision is safer and easier to access.

‘But the UK Government should stand up for abortion rights abroad, just as we have at home.’

Notes:

For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at press@humanists.uk or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.

Read more about our work on abortion.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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