Humanists UK has called on the UK Government to make temporary Covid-19 regulations in England that allow women to access abortion services remotely, known as telemedicine, instead be permanent. The call has come in response to a consultation proposing just that, as evidence shows that abortions have been safer and more accessible under this system. Similar consultations have been launched by the Scottish and Welsh Governments.
In March the Government changed abortion regulations to allow women and girls in England to administer the medication needed to perform an abortion up to the tenth week of gestation within their own home without needing an in-person appointment. This measure was taken to make sure that women could continue to receive care during the pandemic when abortion clinics were closed, and people advised not to travel for risk of infection. Similar measures were also introduced in Scotland and Wales.
Not only has the change been successful in ensuring continuity of care and reducing the risk of transmission of the virus, but significantly, it has also made the procedure safer and more accessible for women and girls. More abortions were performed at earlier gestations, fewer women needed surgical abortions, and there were fewer recorded complications after this change, compared to the same period the year before. Acceptability among women and girls who used telemedicine was extremely high with 96% of women and girls reporting they were satisfied with the service and 80% reported a preference for telemedicine. None reported that they were unable to consult in private using teleconsultation.
Humanists UK Campaigns Officer Rachel Taggart-Ryan commented, ‘The success of telemedicine has been one of the shining lights that has emerged from the darkness of the pandemic. The evidence that this change in regulation has benefitted women and girls by making abortion safer and more accessible is very compelling. It would seem illogical, given the proven benefits of telemedicine, to return to mandated face-to-face clinic appointments after the period of the pandemic.’
For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.
Read our consultation response.
Read more about our work on abortion.
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