Women in Scotland to be able to take abortion pill at home

It is 50 years since Britain passed the Abortion Act

Women in Scotland to be able to take abortion pill at home

Courtney Robinson of Labour Alternative opening a package of abortion pills which were delivered using a drone by choice activists from the Republic of Ireland at Narrow Water Castle near Warrenpoint in Co Down | Image: Liam McBurney/PA Archive/PA Images

Scotland is to make the abortion pill available to women at home, the first place in the UK to do so.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) welcomed the decision, saying it would spare women both the "difficulties associated with having to make more than one clinic visit" and "the risk of symptoms on their way home, having taken the medication in a clinic".

The abortion pill - which is two different medicines administered separately - can be taken at the same time, or with a gap of a few days in between.

In England and Wales, women can opt to take both pills in one session, but previously in Scotland women had to take the pills on two separate occasions in a registered clinic.

While taking the drugs at the same time is more convenient, there are more side effects and the results are less effective than when the medicines are taken at least one day apart.

Women in Scotland have to go to a clinic for the first pill but can now be given the second part of the treatment - the misoprostol - at the same appointment, rather than being forced to return a second time to be administered the second pill.

UK campaign group Abortion Rights said the decision "will end the horrendous experience of abortions commencing on public transport due to outdated legislation which takes no account of medical advances or the reality of women's lives".

It is now 50 years since Britain passed the Abortion Act, giving woman in England and Wales access to safe abortions.

The Scottish Government used existing powers available within the 1967 act to make the change to the rules around the administration of the pills.

Scotland's Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said the decision "allows women to be in control of their treatment and as comfortable as possible during this procedure."

The abortion pill is made up of mifepristone to end the pregnancy and misoprostol to induce a miscarriage.

The tablets can be used to end a pregnancy up to 24 weeks' gestation.

BPAS say they hope England and Wales will follow Scotland's lead and make the same policy change across the rest of the country.