Threads

See more results

Topics

Usernames

Mumsnet Logo
Please
or
to access all these features

Guest Post: “Women should have access to medical abortion care at home, even after the pandemic”
104

AnnaCMumsnet · 29/01/2021 17:02

There have been few health silver linings of this pandemic. But a woman’s ability to access early medical abortion care at home is one of them. Make sure we don’t lose this by responding to the Government consultation by 26 February – it’s quick and will mean women across England and Wales can continue to access high-quality abortion home care at the earliest gestations, protecting their health, wellbeing and even their lives.

At the start of the pandemic, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock approved our request to enable women to receive the medication needed for an early abortion at home following a teleconsultation, removing the legal requirement for women to attend a clinic in person for termination under 10 weeks, and therefore the need to travel often considerable distances during a public health crisis.

Although this was clearly an evidence-based approach, the terms of the 1967 Abortion Act require specific authorisation from Government for changes to where abortion medication may be taken, rules which do not apply to any other comparable health procedure.

For instance, we have long been able to give women suffering from missed miscarriage the very same pills to use at home without political permission. Now the Government is consulting on whether it should retain or revoke this authorisation. It must stay and here’s why.

At BPAS, we didn’t need a pandemic to learn that some women really struggle to access in-clinic services. While COVID-19 exacerbated that problem, it didn’t create it. Every day prior to last year’s approval of home care our midwives spoke to women facing multiple barriers to accessing treatment.

Distance from clinics, reliance on public transport, juggling work, education and childcare, often meant women had later appointments than necessary so they could organise logistics – increasing the gestation at which the abortion was performed and sometimes tipping women over into a surgical procedure when they would have preferred medication.

Abortion is safe, and considerably safer than continuing a pregnancy to term, but the earlier it’s performed, the better it is for a woman’s health.

It’s women already in challenging circumstances who struggle the most. Economic vulnerability and precarious employment, where taking a day off work could mean job loss as well as the loss of vital family income (well over half of women we see already have children to care for), can create serious disparities in access.

“I cannot access the NHS service as it means taking time off work and providing my employer with evidence of why I need time off work - plus losing wages.”

“I have no surplus income. I would not be able to feed my existing children.”

For women in coercive relationships, where pregnancy may be used to tie her to an abusive partner, finding reasons to leave home for the day to attend a clinic in secret was all but impossible during lockdown, but potentially life-threatening pre-pandemic too.

“I’m really struggling to access services as my violent partner won’t allow me to go anywhere on my own.”

“I can't go to an abortion clinic as I wouldn't be able to get there without my partner finding out. He's very abusive to me. If he ever found out I was pregnant I wouldn't be able to get away.”

Because we were not lawfully able to provide care to those who needed it at home, even for women with serious disabilities, it’s no surprise that they were left with little choice but to turn to online providers like Women on Web – set up to provide help to women in countries where abortion is unlawful, but which received regular requests from women in Britain. These requests have vanished since home care became lawful.

We knew that this service would meet women’s needs and that it was an extremely safe way to do so. The evidence gathered suggests it may be even more effective than in-clinic care.

Continuing pregnancy is a known risk of medication abortion, but it appears that home use reduces this by giving women greater control over the timing of when they use the pills, rather than leaving them dependent upon clinic opening times.

And it’s a service women value:

“It gave me the opportunity to have my home comforts around me. I was able to have my partner take care of my other two children with any stress. I was also able to wait until a time over the weekend that was right to start the treatment.”

“I had to have an abortion before COVID-19 when I had a small baby. It was difficult for childcare and I had to catch three trains to get there and three to get back. I was already cramping before I got home. I found it more discreet when it got posted.”

It’s a travesty that we needed a pandemic to achieve the legal change necessary to provide a better service for women. It will be a tragedy if we lose it once the pandemic has passed.

Please respond to the consultation before it closes on 26 February, using our handy guide if you need. We’re so grateful for your support.

OP's posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

SnuggyBuggy · 02/02/2021 09:27

The way I see it the other online abortion options aren't going away. Better to have a legitimate option than leave it to illegal sites.

Please
or
to access all these features

BoobsOnTheMoon · 02/02/2021 09:30

Oh! I can't see it at the top of active convos, maybe it's my settings?

Please
or
to access all these features

DaisiesandButtercups · 02/02/2021 09:36

@Rose87777

Decriminalisation of abortion paves the way for abortion up to birth for any reason. Just want to add my voice to this to say that I don’t think medical abortion pills should be allowed to be taken at home. It essentially makes abortion a form of contraception.

I really don’t think that decriminalisation will lead to abortion up to birth for any reason.

An abortion at term would require going through labour and birth. Even if that were ever allowed why would anyone choose that and going through all the risks, discomforts and inconveniences of pregnancy and birth if they could easily access medical abortion early on?

You seem to imagine that abortion isn’t an incredibly difficult and upsetting decision to have to make.

Using telephone support to enable women to take the pills at home will mean that the abortion can happen earlier than would otherwise be possible if she has to wait for a clinic appointment and make arrangements such as travel, chaperone, childcare and time off work.
Please
or
to access all these features

pointythings · 02/02/2021 09:49

Rose8777 Of course decriminalisation won't lead to abortion up to birth being legal Hmm. That's a catastrophising leap too far.

We should be working towards abortion on demand and operating on the assumption that women know their own minds. Yes, there will always be women in abusive and coercive relationships, but extreme cases make bad law - and the majority of women know their own minds and should be allowed to exercise their freedom to choose.

Medical abortion at home with access to support should absolutely be a part of that.

You sound like someone who is fundamentally opposed to abortion.

Please
or
to access all these features

FoxyTheFox · 02/02/2021 13:31

Decriminalisation of abortion paves the way for abortion up to birth for any reason.

Do you have any evidence for this claim? Has their been a survey of women where the majority have responded to say that if they were allowed to take pills at home for a pregnancy if less than 10 weeks then, next time around, they would terminate an eight month pregnancy purely for the laughs?

Just want to add my voice to this to say that I don’t think medical abortion pills should be allowed to be taken at home. It essentially makes abortion a form of contraception

Gatekeeping of services is one of the major barriers to women obtaining an abortion alongside being able to attend a clinic, childcare, time off work, etc. Allowing them to take the pills at home makes the service more accessible and means a pregnancy that is unwanted/untenable/unviable can be ended as early as possible, it also allows women the dignity of dealing with it in private and in their own surroundings where they will be far more comfortable than they would be in a clinic or ward.

Contraception literally means "to prevent/work against conception", someone who is having an abortion has already conceived so abortion can never be used as contraception. Horse. Stable door.

I would welcome the move. I also think it should be allowed for women who have had a missed miscarriage and opt for medical management of this (same treatment process, often treated in the same ward/clinic) as they too would be more comfortable at home than in a clinic.

No woman should be forced to continue a pregnancy if she does not want to or if she is unable to (e.g., health concerns) and the current process causes unnecessary delays and stress for what should be a straightforward process.

Please
or
to access all these features

CookPassBabtridge · 02/02/2021 13:53

This is brilliant. It felt like a very pointless journey especially as I left the clinic as soon as I'd taken the pills. Sitting in a room full of nervous women was awful.

Please
or
to access all these features

AwFeebs · 02/02/2021 14:40

I'm all for this. I took the tablets at home and was made fully aware of the risks and given a 24 hr helpline to access if needed.

I see no problem with this.

Please
or
to access all these features

whatever1980 · 02/02/2021 17:54

In NI a report has just been released on the abuse carried out against women for decades in the Magdalene Laundries. Horrific abuse against unmarried or abandoned women who found themselves pregnant. Often the victims of child abuse (one victim was 12).

The ministers are coming out and saying how horrific it is and lessons to be learned etc.

None of them seem to see the irony that women in NI are still not protected today.

Abortion is now legal in NI and got through only via Westminster (when Stormont had collapsed). Yet women can't access abortion still and are still having to travel.

The equality commission is taking legal action against the Department for Health in respect of this but they're making excuses saying it's the health trusts who are responsible for providing abortion services.

It's horrific.

Please
or
to access all these features

WhereAreWeNow · 02/02/2021 20:53

Great guest post. I completely agree.

Please
or
to access all these features

goldielockdown2 · 02/02/2021 22:09

This is something I'm so pleased to learn and I will respond to the consultation.
When I traveled for my appointment, the worst things about it were: having to arrange childcare for the best part of a day and feeling guilty about lying as to the reason I needed it, dreading being seen entering the building, having to sit next to a truly vile man and listen to his opinion of all the women present, and fearing the prolife mob who frequently pitch up right outside the building. Even though I was entitled to the service and there is no shame in it, I spent the day feeling like I was sneaking around and waiting for someone to 'catch me out'.
I was given the tablets to take home with me anyway so a telephone appointment process makes a difficult time much more bearable.

Please
or
to access all these features

myyearnextyear · 02/02/2021 22:53

Anyone who's had to go through an abortion and had to go to the clinic knows how hard it is to get the appointment, get childcare, have time off work , be there for a certain time then some who take the pills at clinic have a long way to travel on public transport going through all the extra worry of bleeding cramping making it home etc! I am lucky enough I lived a 5 minute drive, but I had a wobble was late and couldn't be seen again for a couple more weeks, I had terrible morning sickness and just needed it over with before the next appointment, a telephone consultation would have helped immensely, and saved me another two weeks in bed sick, also the second lot of pills have to be taken within a time frame at home so many hours after the clinic appointment, which could be easily adjusted if the first lot are taken at home for people who have to work around it could wait to take pills at the weekend for instance , also the aftercare phone numbers were always answered and helped with concerns pre COVID , please give women the option to do this , they can still go in to clinic if they'd prefer it just gives them an option to choose ! Please click the link in op post and fill in the form to help others in this situation to have the choice

Please
or
to access all these features

GreenSlide · 02/02/2021 23:32

@Rose87777

Decriminalisation of abortion paves the way for abortion up to birth for any reason. Just want to add my voice to this to say that I don’t think medical abortion pills should be allowed to be taken at home. It essentially makes abortion a form of contraception.

That's what they said before abortion was decriminalised here in NI and it's still almost impossible to access abortion care here.
Please
or
to access all these features

Cheeseandwin5 · 03/02/2021 09:40

Whilst I would tentatively agree, I hope this doesn't mean that the additional support and resources a woman may need is lost.
Also I would question whether there are enough checks to make sure tablets don't fall into unscrupulous hands, either to be sold on or used for purposes that are illegal.

Please
or
to access all these features

nowaynowaymanamana · 03/02/2021 09:43

@Rose87777 also your comment about abortion being used as contraception, you've either never had an abortion or you don't have a heart , I can tell you now going through my medical abortion at home for the last half would definitely not class it as contraception you basically bring on a miscarriage ! Stupid comment educate yourself

Please
or
to access all these features

Viviennemary · 03/02/2021 10:04

It did cross my mind also that the tablets could be used for illegal purposes or even obtained and sold on.

Please
or
to access all these features

coffeeandgin26 · 03/02/2021 12:51

Absolutely agree with this.

I had an abortion five years ago. I found out I was pregnant the day before moving 200 miles. When I got my appointment through, my children (I had three) had to have a day off school when they had only just started - the hospital was a 45 minute drive away and the timing clashed with school times. He had to drop me off and I had to go through an abortion completely alone, in a sitting room full of women with their partners or mums. He then had to drive all the way back to get me. The abortion itself was not traumatic but the logistics were

Please
or
to access all these features

MerchedCymru · 03/02/2021 16:32

Strongly supportive of this campaign. Thank you for alerting us to the consultation.

Please
or
to access all these features

AccidentallyOnPurpose · 03/02/2021 17:00

I support anything that makes women's lives easier and gives them more options and control, especially when it comes to something like abortion.

Please
or
to access all these features

stressedsloth · 03/02/2021 18:32

Are there no risks of complications? I assume not if women are being left to go through this ordeal at home alone.

Please
or
to access all these features

pointythings · 03/02/2021 18:59

stressedsloth of course there are risks of complications. Nothing is risk-free. But with a robust framework of support for those cases where things go wrong, this is safe.

Your language around 'women being left to go through this ordeal at home alone' is emotive. Has it occurred to you that women may prefer to be at home, where they are surrounded with familiar things, can curl up in their own beds with their own creature comforts? Add to that the removal of worrying about childcare, travel and so on and the advantages are pretty obvious.

Please
or
to access all these features

DaisiesandButtercups · 03/02/2021 19:25

There is a study on pub med which concludes that adverse incidents are rare in medical abortion and that using telemedicine instead of in person does not increase the risks.

Approximately 8700 telemedicine medical abortions and 10000 in person medical abortions were included in the study. There were no deaths.

Please
or
to access all these features

Meredithgrey1 · 04/02/2021 10:04

@stressedsloth

Are there no risks of complications? I assume not if women are being left to go through this ordeal at home alone.

But women (pre covid) were taking the pills at the clinic and then going home anyway, and that was fine. It’s not like previously you took the pills and were then continuously monitored throughout.
Please
or
to access all these features

Jocasta2018 · 04/02/2021 10:09

I'm in favour provided it isn't the only option that women can use and that they are able to easily access medical advice & assistance throughout the procedure.
I do believe that there should be a follow-up consultation for the patient - either by phone or face-to-face depending on their wishes.

Please
or
to access all these features

HappyBluebird · 04/02/2021 14:00

I hope things have changed, I had this in 1999 and the pain was indescribable. Having said that, even in a (private) hospital I wasn't given any pain relief. I passed out several times and definitely needed someone with me. I also defecated and weed myself and was violently sick. Is the pill better now does anyone know?

Please
or
to access all these features

HappyBluebird · 04/02/2021 14:00

Forgot to add, I had complications (not all the 'matter' was expelled from me and I bled for about 6 months following.

Please
or
to access all these features
Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.