WOMEN will be given quicker and easier access to abortions under new national guidelines.
Clinics will have to offer patients a consultation in person, on the phone or via video call within one week of them requesting one.
Getty – Contributor A health watchdog says that women should not be forced into counselling and fixed reflection time will also be banned
And the procedure should be carried out no more than one week after that.
Health watchdog Nice says services should be banned from forcing women to attend counselling before having the termination.
And fixed periods of reflection will also be forbidden.
Officials say long waits cause additional distress and increase the risk of complications.
Women must be given the choice of medical or surgical procedures to terminate their pregnancy and told the pros and cons.
It is crucial that women are given a choice of medical or surgical treatment options and have access to safe, timely and compassionate careProfessor Lesley Regan
One involves taking drugs at home or at the clinic and the other requires an operation under sedation or general anaesthetic.
Nice warns a shortage of staff means some providers are not able to offer all procedures, forcing women to travel long distances.
It says those on low incomes should be helped to pay for travel and accommodation if they cannot access the service they want locally.
There were 193,000 abortions performed in England and Wales in 2017.
A quarter of terminations are undertaken in NHS hospitals and the others in private clinics under NHS contract.
The draft guidance, which is subject to public consultation, says more medics should be trained to perform abortions in a bid to cut waits.
It also wants pregnant women to be able to refer themselves to NHS hospitals for an abortion without having to see their GP first.’KEY AREA OF WOMEN’S HEALTHCARE’
Most private providers already allow this, even when funded by the NHS.
The guidelines have been drawn up by Nice and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists for the first time.
Prof Lesley Regan, president of RCOG, said: “It is crucial that women are given a choice of medical or surgical treatment options and have access to safe, timely and compassionate care.
“These guidelines will help to address significant barriers that women experience across the country, by reducing waiting times and making it easier for them to access services.
“It’s also absolutely vital that more healthcare professionals are trained in this key area of women’s healthcare to ensure services are sustainable in the long-term.”
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Clare McCarthy, from campaign group Right to Life, said: “The recommended changes will rush women through the abortion process and provide less medical supervision and support.
“This is a reckless approach to healthcare.
“Women’s safety and mental or physical health should never be potentially compromised for the sake of expediency or convenience.”
Alabama bill aims to criminalise all abortions – including in cases of rape and incest