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27 January 2011

AR update, 27 January 2011

New RCOG guidance highlights advances in abortion care; misoprostol and the transformation of the 'abortion pill'; US doctor charged with legal abortions; and more ...

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- 1. NEW RCOG GUIDANCE HIGHLIGHTS ADVANCES IN ABORTION CARE

Britain’s Royal Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) on 22 January published, for consultation, its draft evidence-based clinical guideline, ‘The Care of Women Requesting Induced Abortion’. 

The guidance notes the RCOG’s contribution to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s 2007 inquiry into recent scientific developments relating to the Abortion Act 1967. The STC’s report highlighted a number of issues for members of parliament to consider, including:

- The case for removing the need for two doctors’ signatures authorising the abortion
- Recommendations allowing greater responsibility for nurses already involved in service provision
- The recommendation that there were no reasons of safety, efficacy or acceptability for not allowing women to have the second stage of medical abortion at home.

The 2011 guidance notes that ‘Although the House of Commons chose not to amend the law relating to induced abortion in any of the above respects, the RCOG would still support these changes should any change in the regulations allow them to take place’. It provides detailed evidence, drawn from scientific studies and clinical practice, supporting the safety, efficacy and acceptability of ‘home use’ of misoprostol: the second stage of medical abortion…

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- 2. MISOPROSTOL AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE ‘ABORTION PILL’

Britain was one of the earliest countries to use early medical abortion. In a strange twist of legal and medical history, British women are now being penalised for it. Jennie Bristow reports: 

‘Parliament last amended the abortion law in 1990, when EMA was in its infancy and the drugs used were quite different. In 1990, the EMA protocol was unchanged from the very cautious versions used in the original research trials. This insisted that all the medication had to be taken in hospital - there was no question of women taking the second drug at home.

‘This limiting protocol was the context in which the debate was framed: Parliament made provision for extending the “class of places” where abortions could be performed, but held back from explicitly making any provision that would allow the drugs to be taken off a licensed site. 

‘But things have changed enormously over the past 20 years: to the point where our current abortion law is attempting to regulate a procedure that was not available when it was drafted ...’

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- 3. LATEST PRINT EDITION OF ABORTION REVIEW AVAILABLE ONLINE

Inside this issue - Abortion provision: building on the gains; The National Service Specification for Termination of Pregnancy Services; News and medical digest, August-November 2010.

Download the Winter 2010 edition for free here.

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- 4. USA: DOCTOR CHARGED WITH ILLEGAL ABORTIONS

The case of the Philadelphia doctor charged with performing illegal late abortions and infanticide has sparked a wider discussion. 

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- 5. EVENT: THE END OF THE HFEA - ARE WE THROWING THE BABY OUT WITH THE BATHWATER?

Writing in BioNews, Sarah Guy reports on the recent Progress Educational Trust debate.

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