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Making the case for supported self-managed medical abortion as an option for the future
  1. Lesley Hoggart1,
  2. Marge Berer2
  1. 1 School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, The Open University Faculty of Health and Social Care, Milton Keynes, UK
  2. 2 International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Lesley Hoggart, School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, The Open University Faculty of Health and Social Care, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK; lesley.hoggart{at}

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The use of misoprostol at home to induce abortion began in Brazil in the 1980s and spread rapidly to many parts of the globe. The combination of mifepristone plus misoprostol with safe and effective dosages and regimens rapidly became available through clinical provision and was included on the World Health Organization (WHO) complementary essential medicines list in 2005. In 2018, it was moved to the WHO core list of essential medicines and approved for self-managed abortion (SMA) at home up to 12 weeks’ gestation, based on substantial evidence of efficacy, safety and acceptability in legally permitted settings.1

Telemedicine counselling and long-distance provision of medical abortion pills for home use in legally restricted settings was begun in 2007 by Women on Web, a safe abortion hotline initiated by a feminist doctor. Access was greatly expanded when a second international hotline, Women Help Women, was launched in 2014. Telemedicine to counsel women and arrange SMA at home has been shown to be safe and acceptable in a systematic review of provision by both Women on Web and medical practitioners in the USA, Canada and Australia.2 A recent systematic scoping review on SMAfound that telemedicine and SMA with abortion pills has high levels of effectiveness.3 The positive outcomes experienced by women(2), were with physician-supervised self-managed abortion where women had access to information and support via telemedicine during the abortion process. This article focuses on the issue of support with respect to the acceptability of telemedicine and SMA. We examine these issues …

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  • Contributors This opinion piece was written collaboratively by LH and MB.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.