Tory MPs call for home early abortion service to be made permanent

Posted: 29th March 2022

Three Tory MPs are urging colleagues to vote in favour of an abortion service which allows women to take tablets to terminate early pregnancies at home.

The service was brought in during the pandemic, meaning women could take the pills up to 10 weeks into their pregnancy without visiting a clinic.

Peers have moved to make the service permanent, with MPs getting to vote on the proposal on Wednesday.

But some have concerns about medical safety and coercive partners.

Medical abortion involves taking two different medicines to end a pregnancy.

Before the pandemic, only the second pill could be taken at home, while the first had to be taken at a clinic.

But when lockdown hit, the government changed the rules so women could access treatment after a telephone or online consultation.

The temporary service was extended by six months in February, meaning it will come to an end in August.

But campaigners have said they would like the home option to remain indefinitely.

The Welsh government has already acted to make it law, while Scotland is holding a consultation.

‘Safe and compassionate’

Writing in the House magazine, Tory MPs Sir Peter Bottomley, Caroline Nokes and Crispin Blunt said removing the service would be a “grave misjudgement”.

They wrote: “We encourage all MPs who believe in evidence-based policymaking and women’s reproductive rights to vote in support of the amendment [from the Lords], so that doctors and nurses can continue offering this safe, effective, and compassionate form of abortion care for all who choose it.”

But some MPs are worried about the safety of the service, while others have concerns that coercive partners could force women into taking the tablets.

It is understood that Health Secretary Sajid Javid was “sticking to his guns” on the issue and taking a cautious approach.

But the government has said the wellbeing and safety of women requiring access to abortion services has been, and will continue to be, the first and foremost priority.

Conservative MPs will be given a free vote on the issue – meaning they will not have to follow the orders of government whips in which way they vote.

The decision comes as the Health and Care Bill returns to the Commons, for MPs to consider the changes made by the House of Lords.


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