Consultation on Future Arrangements for Early Medical Abortion at Home

Closed 5 Jan 2021

Opened 30 Sep 2020

Feedback updated 23 Jun 2021

We asked

Early medical abortion at home, and the changes adopted in March 2020, has been an important measure to ensure abortion services have continued to be delivered throughout the pandemic, without delays.  The March 2020 approval allows patients to take mifepristone at home (in addition to misoprostol) following a telephone or online consultation while the coronavirus continues to pose a serious and imminent threat to public health in Scotland, and a doctor, or a nurse under the direction of a doctor, considers that it is not advisable or possible for the person to attend a clinic. In line with the Scottish Abortion Care Providers guidelines, both drugs should only be taken at home where it is considered clinically appropriate for the patient, and where the patient wishes to do so.

The consultation sought views on whether the current arrangements should continue once there is no longer a significant risk of COVID-19 transmission.  The consultation additionally sought views on the impact on the current arrangements on women accessing services, including on safety; those delivering services; any risks associated with the arrangements and related mitigation, and equalities, socio-economic and geographical implications.

You said

The Scottish Government is grateful to those who took the time to respond to the consultation.  The responses showed very differing views on whether or not the current arrangements should continue.  While some respondents felt that the current approach should be made permanent, others raised various concerns, particularly about potential safety risks. An independent analysis of the consultation responses can be found at https://www.gov.scot/isbn/9781800048560

We did

In order to ensure robust evidence is available, the Scottish Government will commission an independent evaluation to assess the effectiveness of the current approach, including in relation to safety.

The current March 2020 approval will remain in place while this evaluation is undertaken. Scottish Ministers will consider future arrangements once this evaluation has been completed.

Results updated 23 Jun 2021

An independent analysis of the consultation responses has been published and can be found at https://www.gov.scot/isbn/9781800048560

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.

Overview

We are seeking views on the future arrangements for early medical abortion at home across Scotland. The responses will help to inform the Scottish Government’s decision on whether the current arrangements should continue once there is no longer a significant risk of COVID-19 transmission. 

Why your views matter

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2020 the Scottish Government put in place an approval allowing eligible women to take both pills required for an early medical abortion (mifepristone and misoprostol) in their own homes after a telephone or video consultation with a doctor or nurse, without the need to first attend a hospital or clinic for an in person appointment. This approval was put in place to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and ensure continued access to abortion services without delays.

Now that these new arrangements have been in place for six months, the Scottish Government is seeking views through this consultation on whether or not to make the current arrangements permanent, allowing for home use of both pills for early medical abortion for those women who are considered eligible in line with Scottish Abortion Care Providers (SACP) guidelines.

The Scottish Government recognises that there are a range of strongly held views on this issue, with many people welcoming the current arrangements, but others raising concerns about the physical or mental health risks of not seeing women in person. This is why we wish to consult on this issue to allow abortion providers and other health professionals, women who have accessed abortion services and the general public the opportunity to comment and submit evidence. 

Read the consultation paper.

Interests

  • Health and Social Care