Roughly 90,000 U.K. women have reportedly had induced abortions since March after U.K. health officials suspended requirements that women visit a health-care provider in person to obtain drugs to end a pregnancy.
Now, those officials want to make easier access to abortion drugs permanent, sticking with the requirement that a woman use a video or telephone conference "or other electronic means" to communicate "with an approved place" or "a registered medical practitioner" to obtain mifepristone and misoprostol, two abortifacients.
Health Minister Lord James Bethell said recently that there will be a public consultation on making the change permanent. The combination of the two drugs can be used to end a pregnancy up to 10 weeks of gestation.
"Thanks to telemedicine, women have been able to access the timely, high-quality care they deserve," said Jonathan Lord, a doctor with abortion provider Marie Stopes U.K. "Had this not been available, the consequences could have been catastrophic."
The government's initial lifting of the requirement for in-person care was supposed to last for only 18 months.
Helen Watt, a senior researcher with the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, wrote in a recent column published by The Tablet that the decision to make abortion pills more accessible during the pandemic came "in the teeth of opposition from those pointing out the dangers to women: severe bleeding and infection, undiagnosed ectopics, inability to check the stage of gestation, inability to check for the presence of coercion."