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Last Updated: Friday, 12 October 2007, 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK
MPs told home abortions are safe
pill in hand
Two drugs are taken to cause a medical abortion
It is safe for women to perform their own medical abortions at home, experts have advised MPs.

Currently, women seeking an early termination - up to nine weeks - take two tablets under medical supervision.

The Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV recommendations emerged as part of an inquiry into the UK's 40-year-old abortion legislation.

However, the Department of Health said there were no plans to the change the law.

The two abortion pills, mifepristone and misoprostol, are not licensed to be used in the home and the second drug can only legally be given by a registered medical professional.

Controversy

The Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists back a change to this, but the RCOG says more research is needed to assess the acceptability of home abortions.

Medical experts, including the British Medical Association, also suggested that laws requiring women to have the signatures of two doctors if they want an early abortion could be scrapped.

Women will never be the winners with such an approach
Julia Millington of the ProLife Alliance

Opponents said neither proposal would help women.

Julia Millington of the ProLife Alliance said: "With abortion virtually on demand in the UK and annual figures escalating, how extraordinary that the major concern of the pro-choice lobby is the abolition of the doctors' role in the consultation process, plus increased use of self-administered medical abortion.

"They pass from the gruesome rhetoric of the back street abortion without proper medical care to themselves promoting it in the back bedroom.

"Neither is desirable and women will never be the winners with such an approach."

An RCOG spokesman said: "There is an increasing body of evidence from both developed and developing countries that home use of mifepristone/misoprostol is safe, effective and acceptable to many women."

Rebecca Findlay, spokeswoman for the fpa (Family Planning Association), said: "Giving British women the option to choose whether to have the second stage of a medical abortion in the safety and quiet of their own home, a common practice in other countries, will make an enormous difference to women's experiences of having an abortion."

The Royal College of Nursing said the law should be changed to allow nurses to prescribe the medication needed to carry out early medical abortions.

RCN general secretary Dr Peter Carter said: "Extending the role of nurses and midwives in this area would prevent women in some parts of the UK being delayed in seeking an early abortion, making the procedure much safer with one small reform."



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