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Abortion: Drugs

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 146197, tabled on 21 May 2018

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will ensure that the administration of mifepristone and misoprostol during a medical abortion will continue to be medically supervised in designated clinical settings.

Answered on

25 May 2018

The Government’s priority is to ensure that women who require abortion services have access to safe, high-quality care. Abortions in England must be performed under the legal framework set by the Abortion Act 1967. We are not currently in a position to recommend that the home be approved as a class of place under Section 1(3)(a) of the Abortion Act in England. However, we are keeping the position under review, including reviewing the available evidence and having regard to the ongoing legal proceedings concerning home use in Scotland.

The evidence shows that the use of misoprostol is safe for women receiving abortion treatment who have no contraindications. Common physical side effects include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, dizziness, headache, nausea, rash and vomiting. Uncommon side effects are abnormal vaginal bleeding, pyrexia (high temperature) and uterine cramping.

We are not aware of any assessment of the psychological impact of passing a fetus at home but in 2011 the World Health Organization published a systematic review, Comparative effectiveness, safety and acceptability of medical abortion at home and in a clinic. On acceptability, studies were examined that looked at satisfaction with the method, the likelihood of choosing the method again and the likelihood of recommending medical abortion to a friend. For medical abortions completed at home the average satisfaction rate was 88.4% and analysis showed no difference in satisfaction rates between women taking misoprostol at home or in clinic. In England, most women undergoing early medical abortion leave the clinic after taking the misoprostol and complete the procedure at home. A copy of the review can be viewed online at:

http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/89/5/10-084046/en/

Answered by

Department of Health and Social Care