At-home abortion services will be voted on today at the House of Commons

If passed, this vote will see the biggest change to abortion care since 1967.

The House of Commons is set to meet today to vote on an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill that would permanently allow at-home abortion services (telemedicine) in England.

Telemedical abortion was made available during the pandemic, and has since given hundreds of thousands of women in Britain access to safe abortions from the comfort and privacy of their own homes.

With the NHS still stretched to capacity, the case for telemedicine to be made permanently available was a popular one. In fact, a recent poll by Savanta ComRes reported 65% women across the UK wanted telemedicine to remain a permanent option beyond the pandemic.

But in a regressive move earlier this year, the Government controversially decided to put an end to at-home abortion services.

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Telemedicine services are currently set to end on 29 August 2022, following a six-month extension by the Government while they keep the issue “under review”.

After this time, at-home abortion will not be an option, rolling back the clock on abortion rights.

Since the introduction of telemedicine, research shows that requests to illicit providers for illegal abortion pills have fallen by 88%, with vulnerable women now able to access legal care.

Women’s rights organisations have fought back against the government’s controversial decision, especially given that at-home abortion services are permanently available in Wales, with the Scottish government also expected to soon follow suit.

It is therefore “entirely inconsistent and unconscionable for English women and pregnant people to be unable to access a service that has been the single biggest positive revolution in abortion rights in the UK since the 1967 Abortion Act.”

Last week, Baroness Liz Sugg helped to pass an amendment to the upcoming Health and Social care bill that would make telemedicine permanent. And today, the House of Commons will vote on it.

If it decides to make the service permanently available, it will mark the biggest change to abortion care since 1967.

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MSI Reproductive Choices’ UK Advocacy and Public Affairs Advisor Louise McCudden released a statement ahead of the vote.

“Following the government’s announcement of their intention to ignore clinical guidance and remove the option of early medical abortion at home, our hopes now sit with our elected MPs,” she announced.

“From the World Health Organisation, to the US Food and Drug Administration, to the government in Wales there is a consensus that abortion pills can be safely taken at home. However, despite the evidence being the same, in England, women, trans men, and non-binary people are not trusted to make this choice for themselves.”

She continued: “We call on people to write to or tweet their MP reminding them that this is a pro-choice country and that the overwhelming majority of women want this service to stay. And we call on MPs to listen to the evidence, the guidance of medical bodies and to women, and vote in favour of the amendment, which would make telemedicine available permanently.”

We will continue to update this story.

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