§ Ms Blears
Within the National Health Service, abortions have traditionally been carried out in gynaecology wards and day care units. A 1999 survey showed that women can wait up to four or five weeks for an abortion in some parts of the country. There is clear evidence that the earlier in pregnancy an abortion is performed the lower the risk of complications. We therefore want to ensure that women who have legal grounds can access an abortion within three weeks as recommended by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists evidence based clinical guidelineThe Care of Women Seeking Induced Abortion.
We plan to test, at a very limited number of sites on hospital premises, whether providing early medical abortions in a setting such as a family planning clinic can help to reduce waiting times. We will also monitor the impact on local hospital services, particularly whether greater use of medical abortion reduces waiting times for surgical abortion and whether staff and operating theatre time is released for other procedures.