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FSRH/RCOG statement in response to the Scottish judicial review on taking misoprostol at home

News 15 August 2018

Today, the Court of Session in Scotland has announced its decision to uphold the Scottish Government’s agreement to enable women to take misoprostol - the second drug used to effect an early medical abortion – at home.

The Chief Medical Officer, with support from Scottish Ministers, recognised home use of misoprostol as safe and acceptable in October 2017. The Welsh Government also enabled home use of misoprostol in June 2018.
 
Professor Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:

“Today’s decision by the Court of Session, enabling the women of Scotland to continue to take misoprostol at home, is a very significant step forward.

“It will allow women to avoid the distress and embarrassment of bleeding and pain during their journey home from an unnecessary second visit to a clinic or hospital. Ultimately, it will help to improve women’s access to safe and regulated abortion care and take pressure off NHS services.

“In light of this decision, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists urges the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to extend the same dignity and compassion to women in England.”

Dr Asha Kasliwal, President of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, said:

“I am delighted to see that women’s reproductive rights, once threatened by SPUC’s legal challenge, have been secured by the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

“The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare believes women should be able to access safe and legal abortion wherever they live in the UK. This includes support for use of abortion medication at home or a place of the woman’s choice.

“Allowing women to take misoprostol at home is a question of patient safety as evidence suggests. A recent study reporting on the experience of 28.000 women who had had an early medical abortion in a year showed how much of a challenge it is for women to go back to a clinic for the second dose of the abortion medication.

“Patient safety should always be at the heart of healthcare delivery. I echo my colleague’s Professor Lesley Regan call for the same dignity to be extended to women in England.”

ENDS

Notes

For media enquiries, please contact the RCOG press office on 020 7045 6773 or email pressoffice@rcog.org.uk

The World Health Organization recommends home use of misoprostol.

RCOG/FSRH statement on taking misoprostol at home.
 
A study found that over 500 women in Great Britain in a four month period in 2016/17 attempted to obtain medical abortion pills online due to inability to access services. Many of the women surveyed said they would like the option of self-administering abortion pills in the privacy and comfort of their own homes. Barriers to accessing abortion services and perspectives on using mifepristone and misoprostol at home in Great Britain. Contraception. 2017.

Simultaneous Compared With Interval Medical Abortion Regimens Where Home Use Is Restricted. Obs and Gyn. April 2018. 

About the RCOG
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision. 
 
About the FSRH
The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) is the largest UK professional membership organisation working at the heart of sexual and reproductive health (SRH), supporting healthcare professionals to deliver high quality care. It works with its 15,000 members, to shape sexual reproductive health for all. It produces evidence-based clinical guidance, standards, training, qualifications and research into SRH. It also delivers conferences and publishes the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health in partnership with the BMJ.