Women In England 'Illegally Taking Abortion Pills At Home'

Women In England ‘Illegally Taking Abortion Pills At Home’ To Avoid Having Abortions On Public Transport

Women in England are illegally taking abortion pills bought online, in order to avoid miscarrying on their way home from clinics, according to a BBC investigation.

Currently, the law states that all abortion pills must be taken in a clinic or hospital – meaning some women end up having an abortion on public transport, or while driving home.

During the past three years, more than 10,000 sets of abortion pills have been seized by enforcement officers, which had been set to go to addresses in Britain.

‘This Is A Decision Which Could Be Taken Today’

However, campaigners are now calling for women to be able to take the second abortion pill at home, something which has already been legalised in Scotland and Wales.

“This would mean [women] do not risk pain, bleeding and cramping on the way home from the clinic,” a spokesperson from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) tells RightsInfo. “Some women even miscarry before they are able to get back.”

“Home use is standard practice in other countries and endorsed by the World Health Organisation,” they continue.

“Because of the rules of the 1967 Abortion Act, the decision as to whether allow women to do this lies not with clinicians acting in the best interests of their patients, but the Secretary of State for Health.

“This is a decision that could be taken today and implemented tomorrow, bringing to an end many years of needless suffering.”

Reproductive Rights As Human Rights

the decision to change abortion law rests with the heath secretary

Image Credit: Number 10 / Flickr

Reproductive rights are broadly thought to fall under Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention, however, it doesn’t specifically protect the right to an abortion.

Article 3 also comes into play, with women protected from ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’, and it’s also worth noting that unborn children do not have a separate legal recognition from their mothers (something which could have linked into Article 2, the right to life).

Because of the rules of the 1967 Abortion Act, the decision as to whether allow women to do this lies not with clinicians acting in the best interests of their patients, but the Secretary of State for Health.

BPAS

Here in the UK, women are decriminalised from having an abortion in certain circumstances – namely if the woman or her existing children’s health is at risk. However, the same does not apply to women in Northern Ireland.

‘I Lay Down On A Bench And I Couldn’t Go Any Further’

a bench

Image Credit: Mari Dicu / Unsplash

Speaking to the BBC, a number of women shared their experiences of taking the second abortion pill. One, Zoe Weldon, said the effects of the pill started just 20 minutes into her tube journey home.

“I started to feel nauseous, started to sweat, started to feel really cold, went extremely pale apparently,” she explains.

I lay down on a bench next to the Tube and basically decided I wasn’t going to move any further. It was so frightening.

Zoe Weldon

“I had to get off the Tube. I lay down on a bench next to the Tube and basically decided I wasn’t going to move any further. It was so painful and so frightening.”

According to the latest figures from Scotland, eight out of 10 women are now choosing to take the final pill at home instead, with the Department of Health saying they were monitoring the evidence.

However, for bpas it’s also a wider issue about criminality. “Ultimately we believe abortion needs to be removed from the criminal law altogether and regulated in the same way as all other healthcare services.” a spokesperson adds.

“These laws, passed before women could vote or keep their own wages if they were married, are so far removed from the modern world it is a travesty they remain on the statutes. We want to see home use, and ultimately the decriminalisation of abortion.”

Featured Image: Josh Wilburne / Unsplash

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About the Author

Jem Collins

Strategic Impact Director
Jem is the Strategic Impact Director for RightsInfo, working on increasing our reach across the UK and measuring our impact. Previously she was the News and Social Media Editor. She is also passionate about helping young people into the media and runs Journo Resources, a start-up which helps young people into the media, as well as serving as a trustee of the Student Publication Association. She is also one of the co-founders of The Second Source, a group to help end harassment in the media. Email Jem View all posts by Jem Collins.
Women In England ‘Illegally Taking Abortion Pills At Home’ To Avoid Having Abortions On Public Transport
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