Women should be approved for abortions over Skype to ‘prevent distress’, say doctors

Doctors are calling for women to be given abortion appointments over Skype [Image: Getty]
Doctors are calling for women to be given abortion appointments over Skype [Image: Getty]

Women may be allowed to take abortion pills without seeing a doctor in person first.

Leading medical practitioners are calling for ministers to allow abortion pills to be obtained following video consultations, report The Times.

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The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is “broadly supportive” of women being able to have appointments via mediums such as Skype.

They have called on the Department of Health to review a policy that currently stops the first drug needed for an early medical abortion being taken at home.

READ MORE: Two thirds of women would not tell their family about an abortion

A recent survey of 3,000 women commissioned by the RCOG showed that 60 per cent felt they could not easily access abortion services as well as other medical care for unplanned pregnancies.

In a statement, they said: “Poor access to basic women’s health services leads to a rise in unplanned pregnancies, abortions, poor patient experiences and outcomes, and increases damaging postcode lotteries across the country.”

The changes proposed would mean women could take the first drug required for a medical abortion without visiting a clinic.

At present, the first medicine - mifepristone - is taken in the presence of a nurse or doctor.

READ MORE: What you need to know about having an abortion

Patients are already allowed to take the second medicine, misoprostol, at home.

Lesley Regan, president of the royal college, said: “Our Better for Women report raises many important issues around women’s healthcare, including easy access to contraception, abortion and fertility services.

“The Department of Health and Social Care greatly improved women’s experience of abortion care when it allowed women to take misoprostol at home.

“Since then women no longer have to suffer the distress or embarrassment of bleeding and cramping pain during their journey home.”

READ MORE: Morning after pill now available for same-day home delivery

Professor Regan continued: “The Department of Health and Social Care should also consider allowing women, after their assessment, to take mifepristone in the comfort and convenience of their own home.

“This would improve the accessibility of early medical abortion care for women, particularly for those who live in rural areas or those with child-caring commitments.”

The RCOG said that women without a fixed address may not qualify for the option of being able to take the abortion pills at home.

Almost 40 per cent of women in the survey also said they struggled to gain access to contraception.

READ MORE: Your contraception options - what does the future of birth control look like?

It likewise showed that a third had not attended their most recent smear test, and six in ten said there was no local menopause support service.

In 2018, there were 200,608 abortions across England and Wales.

This was an increase of 4 per cent on the year before.

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