Have your say on the future of remote abortion care in Scotland
One of the (very) few positives from this year has been seeing how, when pushed, changes can be made to make people's lives easier. Workplace flexibility which disabled people's organisations have been demanding for years, priority shopping times for older people or those who experience sensory overload, and massive efforts to provide accommodation for those in need.
One of those changes has been a shift in how women (as well as trans men and non-binary people) have been able to access abortion care. We saw the start of this change back in 2017 when the Scottish Government enabled women to take one of the two pills needed to have an abortion (mifepristone and misoprostol) at home. This was already a big improvement for women, meaning they didn't need to travel to a clinic twice in a few days, with all of the childcare, work arrangements, travel costs and other inconveniences that created.
During the pandemic, women in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy have been able to have an appointment by phone or video call before being sent both pills to take at home along with clear instructions, access to an advice line and pain management. Of course anyone who wants to be seen in person, particularly women who are unsure of their gestation date, or who have additional health concerns can still do that.
This is clearly a positive step for our ability to access abortion services - it allows us to take medication at a time and in a place of our choosing, avoids embarrassing and inconvenient bleeding on public transport or at work and, for women in rural and island communities, has a big impact on their ability to access an early medical abortion in the first place.
The move to allow early medical abortion at home is set to end along with other Covid-19 measures, but the Scottish Government is currently consulting whether or not to continue the scheme when the Covid crisis ends. We need as many people as possible to fill out the consultation document to show that this progress towards a woman's right to choose shouldn't be rolled back.
We've produced a handy guide to filling out the consultation, as well as some more background information here.
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Access to Abortion: Situating Scotland in the Western World This paper describes the different legal and regulatory contexts for abortion healthcare in Scotland and in other European and western nations.
Engender Parliamentary Briefing: Abortion Clinic Buffer Zones This is a briefing for MSPs ahead of the Member's Business Debate on Abortion Clinic Buffer Zones.
Our Bodies, Our Choice: The Case for a Scottish Approach to Abortion The devolution of abortion law as part of the Scotland Act 2016 also provides Scotland with the opportunity to develop a Scottish approach to women’s reproductive rights, incorporating improved, modernised and standardised service provision underpinned by a progressive devolved legal framework.
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