The government still doesn’t trust us to manage our own reproductive rights, according to a new campaign that is calling for women to be allowed to take the abortion pill at home
A woman has written an open letter urging health secretary Jeremy Hunt to change the law, and allow women to take the abortion pill at home.
Claudia Craig, 23, said she was left “in pain and distress” as she travelled home after taking the medication - known as misoprostol - to terminate a pregnancy last year.
A law dating to 1967 means that women undergoing abortions must take this pill at a hospital or clinic, even though it is regularly prescribed for home use in cases of women who suffer miscarriages.
This is a clear case of “double standard”, says Sophie Walker of the Women’s Equality Party, who is working with Craig on a new campaign to address the “outdated rules”.
Craig says she felt penalised by the fact that she had to take the pill in hospital. The medication took effect quickly, meaning she started to abort her pregnancy in the taxi on the way back from the hospital.
“I was counting down the seconds until I arrived home,” she says. “I collapsed almost as soon as I got inside and started vomiting and miscarrying on the bathroom floor.”
Speaking to Sky News, she says: “It is as if the whole process is set up to make you second-guess your own decision, to make you feel guilty. The fact that women who are miscarrying are treated differently just reinforces that.
“Yet at the end of it all, I felt relieved. I was glad it was over. And I knew I had made the right decision. If I had just been able to take the pill in my own home it would have made such a difference.”
Craig lives in Scotland, which has since updated its laws to allow women to take misoprostol at home in cases of termination, when clinically appropriate.
Claudia and the WEP are now calling upon Jeremy Hunt and Welsh Health Secretary Vaughan Gething to follow suit.
“These outdated rules are putting women through unnecessary distress because our government still doesn’t trust women to manage their own reproductive health,” says Walker.
“The guidelines have not changed since the 1960s, when abortions were all surgical procedures and therefore had to take place at a hospital or clinic. Now that we have abortion pills, women should be allowed to take them at home.”
According to a study by the World Health Organisation, “There is no evidence that home-based medical abortion is less effective, safe or acceptable than clinic-based medical abortion.”
Craig says allowing women to take misoprostol at home in instances of abortion would save the NHS money and resource, as well making sure that women like her didn’t have to suffer unnecessary distress.
“I should never have had to make this journey [to hospital],” she says. “I should have been at home, next to my bed and a bathroom, where my family and friends could support me.
“Misoprostol is regularly prescribed for safe home use when women are experiencing miscarriages, but I had to risk miscarrying in public because of outdated laws from the 1960s.”
To see more about the campaign and sign the petition for a change in law, follow this link.