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Employers need to be aware of newly amended abortion regulation

Francesca Steyn - Peppy

Employers must ensure they are aware of the latest amendments to the 1967 Abortion Act that was updated in parliament recently.

The ruling allows consultations and prescribing to be undertaken via telephone or video conference and for early medical (non-surgical) termination, before 10 weeks’ gestation, to be carried out remotely in non-complex cases.

The amendment, voted on by MPs on 30 March 2022, makes permanent a temporary change that was put in place during the peak of Covid-19 when there were restrictions on travel and access to medical services was limited.

Deciding to have an early termination is hugely sensitive and while taking the abortion pill is, in most cases, considered medically low risk, the situation and associated issues can be stress- and anxiety-inducing. Few employees will want to divulge the details to their line manager or HR department but it can be very helpful for employees to have access to specialist women’s health support to ask questions about the medication itself, long-term health concerns, and for mental health support too.

Francesca Steyn, Director of Fertility & Women’s Health Services of Peppy said: “Telemedicine and digital healthcare have been some of the real success stories of the pandemic across many areas of healthcare including for early abortions.

“Employers must make themselves aware of the amendment to ensure that women’s rights are supported in the workplace too. Employees who were born female and those who were assigned female at birth have a right to have autonomy over their health, and employers can support this.”

The change is said to benefit women by allowing those who require an early termination to access faster, safer and more efficient medication and deter the use of unlicenced interventions. The change will also benefit vulnerable women who cannot attend in-person appointments perhaps because of a controlling partner or domestic abuse.

Francesca Steyn continued: “We’re pleased that parliament has made this change permanent and hope this bodes well for the government’s forthcoming women’s health strategy. Hopefully, the tide is turning in providing access to these under-served areas of women’s health. Employers who also champion women’s healthcare in the workplace will not go unnoticed by existing staff and job seekers too.”

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