Humanists support permanent telemedical abortion services

June 15, 2021

This week we joined Engender, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) and 25 women’s organisations, human rights bodies, and healthcare providers, in writing to the Scottish Government to ask them to make telemedical abortion services permanent in Scotland.

In March 2020 the Scottish Government provided temporary permission for telemedical early medical abortion care to ensure that women and pregnant people across Scotland could continue to access abortion care without having to travel to a clinic during the lockdown periods. Our letter asks that this change be made permanent, to provide women with as much choice as possible in accessing abortion care.

Clare Murphy, Chief Executive of BPAS, said,

All the evidence shows that telemedical abortion care is safe, effective, and accessible for those who need it. Being forced to needlessly attend a clinic would make access to abortion difficult for many women in Scotland – especially those from remote, rural, and island communities where travel can be complicated and expensive. Eliminating the need for unnecessary travel means not having to arrange childcare, less time off from work, and not having to explain to family and friends why you need extended periods away from home.

Not only is telemedicine safe and effective, allowing for abortion care at the earliest possible gestation, but our research has shown that 97% of women reported they were satisfied or very satisfied with the service – findings echoed by Scottish research. We hope that the Scottish Government will ensure the experiences of all who need abortion care are kept at the heart of decision-making

Emma Ritch, Chief Executive of Engender, said,

Access to abortion is an essential aspect of women’s human rights, and we hope that the Scottish Government will make permanent the positive and world-leading improvements to reproductive healthcare which we have seen over the past year. Telemedical abortion, where clinically appropriate and a woman’s preference, has proven a safe, effective, and accessible service that enables women in Scotland to make the right choice for them regardless of geographic, economic, or social barriers.

This letter, from medical professionals, human rights bodies, organisations working to eradicate violence against women, and other groups, shows the breadth of support for enabling women to access safe, legal abortion remotely if that is their choice. We urge the Scottish Government not to withdraw the option of telemedical care, which would only reduce access and reintroduce barriers to what is an essential aspects of women’s rights and healthcare.

Read the letter.

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