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Two new studies show why UK telemedicine should be made permanent

Friday 19 February 2021 MSI Reproductive Choices Safe abortion and post abortion care

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Two new studies analysing the latest data from MSI Reproductive Choices and partners on early medical abortions have found that allowing abortion care at home, via telemedicine, has provided a safe, effective, more accessible service that's preferred by clients.

New research from MSI Reproductive Choices focused on client voice was published in the British Medical Journal today, revealing that at-home abortion care, via telemedicine, is the preferred choice for 8 out of 10 UK clients (83%) and two thirds would choose it again should they ever need an abortion in the future, even if COVID-19 were no longer an issue.

Jonathan Lord, MSI Reproductive Choices' UK Medical Director and co-author of the report said:

"It's widely accepted that telemedicine is clinically effective. We can now say confidently that it's also preferable for most patients.

"Our research shows that at-home abortion is a valued, private, convenient and more accessible option, especially for those who find in-clinic visits logistically or emotionally challenging."

MSI is also proud to have collaborated on the largest ever study on abortion care, published today in BJOG, with researchers at the University of Texas, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and National Unplanned Pregnancy Advisory Service. This study analysed the outcomes of more than 50,000 early medical abortions and found that:

  • Average waiting times from when the woman has her consultation to when she received treatment improved from 10.7 days to an average of 6.5 days
  • The effectiveness of the treatment remained the same for abortions carried out through the traditional service and the telemedicine service

Prior to the telemedicine service being approved in the UK, anyone seeking an abortion needed to attend a facility in-person. However, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) urged the Government to change the law so that women could access early medical abortions at home. This was approved in England in March 2020 and shortly after in Scotland and Wales. On 6th April, MSI Reproductive Choices UK launched its award-winning telemedicine early medical abortion service.

The UK government is now in the process of deciding whether to make access to early medical abortion via telemedicine (home-based) care permanent in the UK, with an open consultation that draws to a close next week. MSI Reproductive Choices hopes that the new research will add to the growing global body of evidence in support of keeping this vital pathway available beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jonathan Lord added: "At MSI Reproductive Choices UK, we believe the global evidence to support telemedicine is now so strong that it's hard to see how removing this pathway could be justified. We hope the government decides that it can continue to trust women to take their own decisions about what is best for their reproductive health." 

The UK Government's Consultation on telemedicine remains open until 26th February 2021. If you would like to contribute to the consultation, access our guide on how to make abortion telemedicine permanent via MSI Reproductive Choices UK's website.

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