Political spectrum

British voters are overwhelmingly pro-choice across the political spectrum and support the extension of home abortion

Since April 2020, women have access to medical abortions at home (Alay)

Eleanor Langford

5 minutes to read

Exclusive: Majority of people across the UK are pro-choice regardless of political affiliation and support the continuation of home abortion care beyond the pandemic, a new poll reveals.

According to the survey of 2,001 people, conducted by Censuswide on behalf of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), 71% of Britons agree that “if a woman does not want to continue with her pregnancy, she should be able to have an abortion”. .

This trend is consistent across the political spectrum, with 70% of Conservatives for versus 9% against, and 77% of Labor voters for versus 9% against.

Majority of Britons also support continuation of home abortion services, after temporary measures were introduced at the start of the pandemic allowing women and those seeking abortion care to take medical abortion tablets without going to a clinic.

Previously, women had to take the first dose of the drug at a licensed clinic, followed by the second dose at home.

Those who voted Labor in the last election are more in favor of continuing the measures, with 64% in favor, compared to those who voted Conservative, who are 56% in favor.

Age was also found to be a big factor in whether a person is pro-choice – 68% of 16-24 year olds said they supported women with abortions, while 51% of those over 55 said the same thing.

Commenting on the results of the investigation, Clare Murphy, CEO of BPAS, said: majority of the public, of all political stripes.

“There is a lot of clinical evidence that telemedicine abortion care is safe, effective and woman-centered.

“The ability to provide early medical abortion treatment at home has led to shorter waiting times and a reduced rate of complications as women can terminate their pregnancies as early as possible.”

She continued, “We need to be clear – revoking access to telemedical abortion would be detrimental to the health and well-being of women in need of abortion care.

“On the eve of the Conservative Party conference, the government has the opportunity to demonstrate that it listens to medical experts and that it listens to women. We urge them to do so.

Women’s groups and abortion charities have been calling for temporary home abortion measures to be maintained since the start of the year.

The rule change went into effect in April 2020 and is expected to last until March 31, 2022, or until the mechanisms behind the coronavirus regulations are lifted.

Previously, women and pregnant people seeking an early medical abortion – defined as the first nine weeks of pregnancy – had to go to an approved clinic for their first pill of mifepristone or misoprostol.

Since 2018, they can take the second dose home with them, giving them control over where they are when the bleeding starts.

A recent British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology study of more than 50,000 abortions in England and Wales, published in April 2021, concluded that the abortion care provided was virtually “effective, safe, acceptable, and improved. ‘Health care access “.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs (DHSC), 43% of medical abortions were performed at home between April and June 2020 at the height of the first confinement.

Caroline Nokes, chair of the Women and Equality Select Committee, said the results of the BPAS survey “clearly show the level of support for women to access early and safe abortion care when it is needed. necessary”.

“What we’ve seen with the introduction of telemedicine is an ability for women to access help earlier, from the comfort of their own homes, and wait times have gone down,” she told PoliticsHome.

“We all know that early treatment is far better, minimizing the risk of complications.”

“The pandemic has made life very difficult for women, both financially and in terms of the family responsibilities they have taken on.

“Making this kind of medical care as accessible as possible has helped those who face incredibly difficult decisions, and we know that making their lives easier is critically important.

“I hope the government has the courage to pursue telemedicine for abortion care, and this study shows that there are significant benefits to that.”

The survey also showed support for decriminalizing abortion, with respondents asking what they thought of a woman terminating her pregnancy at home without going to a clinic once the temporary measures allow that were lifted.

65% said they would not support a woman facing criminal charges for choosing to terminate her own pregnancy at home, while 13% were strongly in favor and 22% were somewhat in favor.

Labor MP Diana Johnson – who was recently forced to withdraw her amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to decriminalize abortion – said the results of the inquiry “ should not be ignored ”.

“During COVID-19, telemedicine for early medical abortion prevented tens of thousands of women from having to go to clinics unnecessarily and allowed many healthcare professionals to provide care from the safety of their homes. their own home. “

“The APPG on Sexual and Reproductive Health heard from experts at its last event about how these measures have been beneficial for women and how important it is that they stay in place.”

“Abortion care must meet the needs of women. Today’s survey results show strong public support for ensuring that the policy reflects this.”

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