Women in Scotland remain legal right with abortion pills

In Scotland, Pro-Life campaigners from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children have lost their battle contesting the right for Scottish women to take abortion pills in their own homes. Those arguing in support of the campaign claimed that ‘DIY abortions’ should be illegal as, in their opinion, they threaten the health of the women taking them and the unborn child. The Chief Executive of SPUC had claimed that the Scottish Government ‘refused to engage in discussion on the matter despite the concerns we raised with them. We have no option but to challenge it through the courts.’

Legal action was raised by SPUC after Dr Catherine Calderwood, Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, wrote to the Scottish health boards last year ‘indicating that misoprostol could be taken by women outside a clinical setting’. The SPUC argued that taking the drug without medical supervision would be too much of a risk, but the legal team opposing them said it was ‘perfectly understandable for a woman undertaking such a personal procedure to want to do so in her own home’. This was supported by Judge Wise, who in her concluding statement said ‘as a generality, it seems to me that patients who self-administer medication at home may still be described as being treated by their medical practitioner who remains in charge of that treatment.’

Dr Catherine Calderwood, SPUC Chief Medical Officer

This ruling does not change anything for women in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. The President of the Royal Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Professor Lesley Regan, said ‘[we] urge the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to extend the same dignity and compassion to women in England.

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