This site is intended for health professionals only

Judge dismisses abortion law change

A High Court judge has rejected a bid to allow abortions to be completed at home.

At present, the 1967 Abortion Act requires women to take both the first and second doses of tablets for an early medical abortion under supervision in a hospital or other medical premises.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) had argued that the law should be relaxed as advances in medical science mean that the second dose of tablets can be self-administered at home.

Mr Justice Supperstone, sitting at the High Court in London, ruled in favour of Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, who had opposed the move.

BPAS lawyers said women suffered unnecessary anxiety about miscarrying on the way home from the clinic after the second round of tablets, especially if they had to travel long distances and/or use public transport.

The judge had to decide on the meaning of the words 'any treatment for the termination of pregnancy' in the Abortion Act, and whether they covered both the prescription and the administration of the drugs used in abortion.

The judge upheld the government's interpretation that the administration of both sets of abortion tablets amounted to 'treatment' which must be carried out by a 'registered medical practitioner' on premises approved under the Abortion Act.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

British Pregnancy Advisory Service

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"No I do not think the present laws should be changed" - Louise Baker, Warwickshire