Tory consultation on home-use abortion pills
Continued access is vital for working-class women
Nina Brown, Leeds Socialist Party
One in three women will have an abortion before the age of 45. The abortion pill is a safe and uncomplicated medical procedure carried out in the first ten weeks of pregnancy.
Before the pandemic, obtaining it required travelling to a clinic, taking a pill there, then having to travel home again (often while still bleeding).
During the pandemic, to minimise face-to-face appointments, clinics have been allowed to offer telephone consultation and home-use abortion pills, which over 50% of service users have chosen.
The average waiting time for an abortion has halved since home-use was allowed, and major complications have dropped by two thirds.
A study by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence study found that every extra day on the abortion waiting list costs the NHS £1.6 million, as quicker and earlier access means less complications.
Despite this, the government has launched a consultation about whether to revert to face-to-face only appointments.
For some, having an appointment in person may be preferable. But taking away the home-use option would disproportionately affect working-class women.
Kerry Abel, chair of Abortion Rights, said: "More than 50% of women who have an abortion already have at least one child, so childcare is not an inconsequential factor. Travel is expensive, taking days off work is expensive, getting childcare is expensive."
Employment opportunities and conditions are scarily unstable, and taking time off for an appointment frequently means lost pay, and could mean losing out on future work.
The option of tele-medical abortion improves access for people who may be unable to leave home easily, for reasons such as travel restrictions, domestic abuse, disability and caring duties.
"If there is a decision to stop it [tele-medical abortion care] it is not for any scientific reasons. It will be wholly for political reasons", Dr Lord, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, commented.
The Abortion Act has faced anti-choice attacks from controlling, puritanical capitalist politicians since it was put in place in 1967. It has been kept free and legal, in part by trade union pressure.
We in the Socialist Party know that no part of our NHS is safe in Tory hands.
It should be the right of all women to decide when or whether to have children. On the one hand, this means access to contraception, abortion, fertility services and sex education. On the other, it means ensuring that the resources are available for childcare, local services, decent housing and a guaranteed income that can enable children to be brought up free from poverty.
- The abortion pill must continue to be available for home use as has been the case during the Covid pandemic
- No more cuts and closures of contraceptive services. Full access to free, safe contraception
- Nationalise big Pharma and fund research into safer, more effective contraception
- Free abortion on demand
- Access to free fertility treatment on the NHS for all who need it
- Increase research into the prevention of infertility
- Inclusive, quality health, relationship and sex education in schools
- The consultation is due to end on 26 February. Details can be found by searching 'abortion pills' at gov.uk.
In The Socialist 17 February 2021: