Rules relaxing access to abortion aren’t enough to protect women in the pandemic.
The Department of Health has said that women in England can take abortion pills at home—a move that pro-choice campaigners have argued for over many years.
That’s a positive change.But after a week of mixed messages, the department said that the “measure will be on a temporary basis and must follow a telephone or e-consultation with a doctor”.
The rule changes relate to early-term medical abortions, which involve taking two tablets. Normally, women need to get the permission of two doctors and have to take the first pill at a clinic, and the second one at home.
But now up until the tenth week of pregnancy and after an online consultation with a doctor, women will have the abortion pills sent to them in the post.
The rule changes don’t go far enough to protect the rights of tens of thousands of women who will need to access abortion services during the lockdown.
But they do show that it’s possible to easily extend reproductive rights.
Women in Scotland and Wales have received no information about what the coronavirus crisis means for their abortion, as Socialist Worker went to press.
And women in Northern Ireland still face journeys hundreds of miles long to access abortion services in England or Wales, increasing their exposure to coronavirus.
Women should have full control over their own bodies and their own lives.
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