The high court has dismissed a bid by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service to relax the law on abortions at home.
It was argued by the service that medical science advancements meant the law should be changed so that the second set of tablets for an early medical abortion could be taken at home.
The move was opposed by health secretary Andrew Lansley, whose lawyers argued that under the 1967 Abortion Act, women were required to complete both doses in a hospital or medical centre while supervised.
The BPAS’s case was dismissed after Mr Justice Supperstone, sitting at the high court in London, ruled in the health secretary’s favour.
BPAS lawyers said women suffered unnecessary anxiety about miscarrying on the way home from the clinic after the second round of tablets, especially if they had to travel long distances and/or use public transport.
The judge had to decide on the meaning of the words “any treatment for the termination of pregnancy” under section 1(3) of the abortion act, and whether they covered both the prescription and the administration of the drugs used in abortion.
The judge upheld the government’s interpretation that the administration of both sets of abortion tablets amounted to “treatment” which must be carried out by a “registered medical practitioner” on premises approved under the abortion act.
He said the section was “consistent” with the health secretary’s submissions as to the meaning of the concept of “treatment”.