Abortion Rights’ Reaction to the Department of Health’s Unexplained U-Turn on Abortion Access During the Current Public Health Crisis

Abortion Rights sent out a Press Release expressing its satisfaction with measures announced that would facilitate at-home early medical abortions during the coronavirus crisis, by allowing women to take both abortion pills at home without requiring them to attend a clinic first.

Now the Department of Health has inexplicably made a U-turn on those measures, saying that reported changes to the abortion law are not going ahead, but that the document published on their website yesterday “was published in error”.

Abortion Rights Chair Kerry Abel said: “This is extremely disappointing. The government is putting large numbers of women at risk by forcing them to unnecessarily travel and take up doctors’ time during a public health crisis. Self-managed abortion is a safe and effective procedure, for which the World Health Organisation (WHO) has provided guidelines, and Misoprostol is on the WHO’s list of essential medicines.”

The Department of Health has not yet given a valid reason for this U-turn. Meanwhile, over the next three months, an estimated 44,000 women in England and Wales will need to access an early medical abortion.


  • Abortion Rights is the UK pro-choice campaign, working to defend and extend abortion rights and provide a pro-choice voice to the media.
  • One in three women will have an abortion by the time she is 45.
  • In the UK, consistently three-quarters of people support a woman’s right to choose.