UNITED KINGDOM: STOP PRESS! – Telemedicine for medical abortion permitted indefinitely in the UK

In response to a major campaign led by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, involving pro-choice members of both houses of Parliament and some 50 health and rights groups across the UK, the House of Commons voted 215 to 188 on 30 March 2022 in favour of retaining telemedical abortion indefinitely. Scotland and Wales had already decided separately to do so.

The government had approved telemedical abortion care in 2020, a few months after the pandemic started, but only until it was over. Since then, the UK’s current Secretary of State for Health and the Public Health Minister pressured the government to end telemedical abortion care. A proposal to stop telemedical abortion care was added to a much larger bill about the National Health Service. When the bill went to the House of Lords, they tabled more than 120 amendments, and sent it back to the Commons. One of their amendments was to retain telemedical abortion care. Although the government said it would be a free vote, they had also instructed Tory MPs to vote to end telemedical abortion. But some 200 MPs did not vote at all. After two hours of debate, the Lords’ amendment was passed by 215 to 188. A strong showing indeed!!

FULL TEXT OF THE DEBATE: Hansard, 30 March 2022, ±3:15pm to 5:40pm GMT. VISUAL: British Pregnancy Advisory Service