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Press release: NICE abortion guidelines recommend NHS rush women through abortion process – could lead to an increase in abortions


NICE abortion guidelines recommend NHS rush women through abortion process – could lead to an increase in abortions

26 September 2019 – NICE has released abortion guidance that makes a series of recommendations which will encourage services to rush women through the abortion process, reduce medical support for women, could threaten the consciences of health professionals, and could lead to an increase in the number of abortions.

The guidelines recommend that abortion providers to

  • Encourage women to “self-refer” for abortions. (p.8)
  • “Ensure minimal delay in the abortion process” thereby reducing the time that women have to reflect upon their decision and look at other support options. (p.9)
  • Replace face-to-face abortion consultations with a GP or health professional with phone or ‘telemed’ consultations. (p.9)
  • Expand abortion services from the current list of registered hospitals and clinics to a far wider range of settings “in the community”.(p.9)
  • Increase funding for travel and accommodation to access abortion services, but there is no mention of providing increased funding and support for women who wish to continue with their pregnancies. (p.8)
  • Utilise nurses and midwives as much as possible, thereby minimising the role of doctors in the abortion process. (p.9)
  • Increase integration of abortion training and practical experience into training for health professionals and students. (p.10)
  • Not provide routine follow-up appointments for women who have had an abortion at home or at a location other than an abortion clinic or hospital. Instead, remote assessment, via “telephone or text messaging”, could be an alternative, to a post-abortion follow-up with a GP. (p.19)
  • Introduce procedure where abortions take place before pregnancy has been confirmed by an ultrasound. (p.14)

Spokesperson for Right to Life, Catherine Robinson said:

“The recommendations in these guidelines from NICE will rush women through the abortion process and provide less medical supervision and support for women. In 2018, in the UK 205,292 babies in the womb were aborted. These recommended changes could mean less time for women to explore options other than abortion and see our already very high abortion rate increase even further.”

“Contrary to the recommended changes seeking to rush women through the abortion process, a ComRes poll found that 79% of the general public in the UK are in favour of introducing consideration periods to ensure that a woman considering an abortion has had enough time to consider all of the options available to her.

“The guidelines should address the reasons women seek out abortion services in such high numbers in this country, often because of; vulnerability, isolation, lack of financial or emotional support, or pressure from a partner. Simply rushing women through the abortion process does nothing to address the problems these women already face and would only later compound these issues if coupled with post-abortion regret.

“This is a reckless approach to healthcare. Women’s safety and mental or physical health should never be potentially compromised for the sake of expediency or convenience.”

Dr Callum Miller, medical doctor and research associate at the University of Oxford, said:

“Self-referral, self-administration and less medical involvement in abortions is not an improvement in health services for women. Clearly, the absence of medical supervision for taking powerful drugs, often with great distress, is not an improvement in medical care.

“The guidance states that there is no routine follow-up necessary for women following an abortion procedure. This is especially concerning given what appears to be a drive to encourage out-of-clinic use of misoprostol where women will pass the fetus either at home or at another non-clinical location.

“Mental health reviews have repeatedly stressed the need for screening for those at risk of negative mental health consequences from abortion, and it is disappointing to see that such women are not offered psychological follow up after such a traumatic event which appears to be associated with worse mental health outcomes.