Radical proposals to make abortion easier have been announced by the Scottish Government.
Following recommendations from a Government-appointed advisory group, Health Minister Maree Todd has pledged to make easy access to abortion services a top priority.
Since emergency Covid legislation was introduced in March 2020, women in Scotland can have an unsupervised chemical abortion within the first twelve weeks of pregnancy after just a phone or video consultation with a doctor or nurse.
Under the “Women’s Health Plan”, the Scottish Government aims to make the virtual consultations “universally available” by 2022.
It also intends, before the end of 2024, to “increase options” where women can take the first of the two chemical abortion drugs mifepristone – which kills the developing baby.
The new policy commitments come despite the official consultation finding most Scots opposed making permanent the emergency measures that have allowed mifepristone to be taken at home. Women have been able to take the second drug misoprostol at home since 2017.
In addition, the Scottish Government plans to expand provision for surgical abortions both “locally or regionally” within three years, and has committed to find ways to block offers of help for women and prayer near abortion centres.
Catherine Robinson of Right to Life UK said that she was “sad to see” the Scottish Government seemingly “bent on increasing the number of abortions”. She added: “it is our duty to save lives, not attempt to end more”.
Right to Life UK also criticised the Scottish Government over its analysis of responses to the consultation on pandemic measures, accusing it of downgrading those deemed to have used the organisation’s template but not applying the same criteria to pro-abortion groups.
In May, Public Health Scotland announced the highest abortion rate since records began in 1968. In total, there were 13,815 abortions in Scotland in 2020.