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UK abruptly reverses move to allow easy home abortions due to coronavirus; officials claim it was a 'publishing error'

Members of Parliament are upset

An elderly woman sits in a bus stop Wednesday in Glasgow, Scotland, as people are asked to socially distance themselves amid the coronavirus outbreak. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The United Kingdom's Department of Health announced earlier this week that, due to coronavirus lockdowns, women would be able to have abortion pills prescribed to them remotely so they could take them at home.

That reported change was quickly reversed by the department, which claims it was a "publishing error," but now members of Parliament are upset about the reversal of a change many of them favored, according to the Independent.

"It's absurd to expect women to be able to travel during lockdown for a vital healthcare procedure that could be done at home," Labor MP Stella Creasy said. "That risks thousands of women being forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy because they cannot access medical services."

The initial change: In a since-removed announcement on a government website, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the temporary suspension of a requirement that women seeking abortions have to see a doctor in person first and have two physicians sign off on the procedure. From the Independent:

The move was in response to a number of organisations who wrote to the health secretary urging him to amend the law during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak to stop non-essential travel of women to undergo an abortion.

The new measures make the home, whether that of the patient or medical practitioner, a suitable venue to take both abortion pills, confirmed the Department of Health and Social Care.

The change would've allowed women to consult with doctors on abortion by telephone or video call.

The reversal: The same day, the department announced that the rules on abortion were not changing, and that the published document announcing the change was an error.

The Department of Health says reported changes to the abortion law, that would allow women to take both pills at home during the coronavirus outbreak, are not going ahead.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told The Independent: "This was published in error. There will be no changes to abortion regulations."

Lawmakers who supported the change are now inquiring about why the law was reversed to keep abortion restrictions in place, as the publication of the announcement appears to indicate there was at least some consideration of easing the law to allow women to get home abortions during the coronavirus lockdown.

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