Employers and OH practitioners have been urged to be aware of the latest amendments to the 1967 Abortion Act, which was updated in parliament last week.
It allows abortion consultations and prescribing to be undertaken via telephone or video conference and, for early medical (non-surgical) termination (in other words before 10 weeks’ gestation), to be carried out remotely in non-complex cases.
The amendment, voted on by MPs on 30 March, has made permanent a temporary change that was put in place during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, when there were restrictions on travel and access to abortion consultations was limited.
Deciding to have an early termination can be hugely sensitive and, while taking the abortion pill is, in most cases, considered medically low risk, digital health platform Peppy has pointed out that the situation and associated issues can be stress- and anxiety-inducing.
Employees will be reluctant to divulge the details of this to their line manager or HR department but it can be 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 and 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,” she added.