Opinion Former Article

Marie Stopes International: High court rules against women having the right to choose where they have a medical abortion

London, 14 February 2011: The high court today stood by the current interpretation of the Abortion Act, deciding that women should not have the right to choose where to complete a medical abortion.

However the judge The Hon Mr Justice Supperstone, has ruled that Section 1(3A) of the Abortion Act as amended in 1990 enables the Secretary of State to react to "changes in medical science" meaning that he can choose to change the current policy on where early medical abortions take place.

In response to this ruling Tracey McNeill, Vice President & Director of UK and West Europe for Marie Stopes International said "This ruling is very disappointing as it limits choice for women who want to be able to take control of the timing and environment in which they complete a termination. It actually puts the UK behind other developed nations including the USA, Australia and France who routinely offer women the choice of where to complete a medical termination. However, this judgement does provide an option for the Secretary of State to change the Department of Health's policy and allow women to make the choice of where to complete a medical termination and we will work with the Department of Health to make this happen."

A medical termination takes place in two stages using medication, rather than surgical methods, to terminate a pregnancy. The first pill - mifepristone - actually causes the termination; the second pill - misoprostol - induces a heavy period to complete the procedure. It was hoped that the judgement would allow for the first stage to remain as it is now - the pill be given on licensed premises by trained clinicians along with the required support, advice and counselling - and then during the same appointment the woman would be given the second pill and then be given the choice of where to take it.

McNeill continues "As an international organisation, Marie Stopes International has significant experience of providing women with the option to take the second pill in an environment other than a clinic, with very positive results, and believe that women everywhere should have an equal ability to choose how they manage their sexual and reproductive health.

"As Britain's leading provider of sexual and reproductive health services, Marie Stopes International will support BPAS in the next stages of this action."

***ENDS***

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Marie Stopes International
Marie Stopes International is Britain's leading independent sexual and reproductive health provider, delivering services to more than 100,000 clients across nine centres each year. We are dedicated to focussing on the sexual and reproductive health needs of women in the UK by delivering high quality care and clinical excellence.

Internationally, Marie Stopes International delivers quality family planning and reproductive healthcare to millions of the world's poorest and most vulnerable women in more than 40 countries. As a not-for-profit organisation surplus funds from the UK clinics support our work globally.

For more information, please visit our website www.mariestopes.org.uk

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