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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-22575: Richard Lyle (Uddingston and Bellshill)

Scottish National Party

Date lodged: 5 April 2019

To ask the Scottish Government how many pregnant women have had a “home” abortion since its decision to allow misoprostol to be self-administered at home, and whether it will publish copy of its risk assessment and equality impact assessment documentation.

Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick 16 May 2019

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Lothian are undertaking research on women’s experiences of taking misoprostol at home and the effectiveness of early medical abortion at home. This research will be published in due course.

Before issuing the approval, Ministers were satisfied, on the basis of advice from clinical specialists, that there was no increased risk to patients from home administration of misoprostol and that the change would be a beneficial one for those women who chose the option of taking misoprostol at home. There is no evidence that misoprostol leads to any increased risks to either the physical or mental health of the patient compared to other forms of abortion treatment.

The Scottish Ministers’ approval of October 2017 does not relate to self-administration of misoprostol as it only relates to permitting a woman’s home as a class of place where misoprostol can be taken as part of treatment for termination of pregnancy. Most patients already chose to self-administer misoprostol tablets prior to the approval.

Misoprostol is a licenced drug, used for a number of purposes, including treatment of miscarriage and as part of abortion treatment. Its use in medical abortion is recommended by a wide range of expert bodies, including the World Health Organization and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Information Services Division (ISD) within NHS National Services Scotland collects data on abortions in Scotland. Data for 2018 will be published by ISD at the end of May 2019. By the end of 2017, there were 58 medical terminations of pregnancy recorded as early medical abortions at home.