Women in Scotland are now the first in the UK to be allowed to take the abortion pill in their own homes.
The change in legislation comes after Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood wrote to health boards to say that misoprostol – the medication used to cause an abortion – can be taken by women outside a hospital or licensed clinic, according to multiple reports.
Announcing the news, the Scottish government’s public health minister, Aileen Campbell, said in a statement: “Abortion can be an emotive subject. However, I am proud this government is working hard to ensure women are always able to access clinically safe services.
“Scotland is now the only part of the UK to offer women the opportunity to take misoprostol at home when this is clinically appropriate, a decision that allows women to be in control of their treatment and as comfortable as possible during this procedure.”
Under current law, women must take two types of medication inside a clinical setting after approval from two doctors. Women in Scotland will now be able to collect the pills and return to the privacy of their own home before taking them, a move which has been welcomed by the Abortion Rights group.
“This is a progressive move and one which is in line with modern medicine,” Gillian Merchant, Vice Chair of Abortion Rights, said in response to the news. “This will remove the current rigmarole of a woman requiring to attend the hospital to be provided with the first pill and then sent home. Only to require to go back to the hospital to be administered the second pill and then sent back home again.”
She added: “It will end the horrendous experience of abortions commencing on public transport due to outdated legislation which takes no account of medical advances or the reality of women’s lives. This flexibility will benefit women who struggle to access services for a range of reasons such as domestic abuse, work and childcare arrangements.”
However, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children described the news as an “appalling decision.” Responding to the news on Twitter, the pro-life group wrote: “How is this showing care for women?”
Scotland joins the United States, France and Sweden in allowing women to take abortion pills at home. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service is now calling for the rest of the UK to follow suit.
Ann Furedi, CEO of BPAs, said “It is simply perverse that a woman arriving at a BPAS clinic in England and Wales with an incomplete miscarriage can be given the medication to take in the comfort and privacy of her own home, while a woman seeking an abortion must take that same medication on site.
“We hope that the government will follow Scotland’s lead and roll out this important policy change across the rest of Great Britain.”