This might be a bold claim, but it's one I stand by — the history of medicine has been pretty misogynistic. While it happens less today, historically doctors often have accused women of exaggerating their pain, to the point where they've doubted the things they feel. This history has made some of today's pertinent medical topics for women — contraception, birth control, abortion — seem pretty thorny. Happily things are changing, and doctors and experts seem to mostly be making steps towards helping women have more choices, so it's only fair that the NHS have been told to give women more consistent abortion advice.
As the BBC reported on Friday, April 12, in a new draft proposal from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) — the NHS' official advisory body — the service intends to provide a more consistent process for women who have chosen to have an abortion. So far, the draft proposal reportedly states that women should be offered an appointment within a week of requesting, and that termination should take place no more than a week after that.
They've also added that instead of being wholly dependent on a GP, women who have chosen to have an abortion can now self-refer themselves, making the process quicker and more simple.
While NICE have stated in their reports that most surgeries already operate on a self-referral basis, this doesn't always extend to hospitals, who still sometimes expect a referral from a GP before they can go on with the procedure. Hopefully soon, a more consistent service will ensure that this doesn't happen. However, according to the draft proposal, women will still need to get the OK from two doctors, but they no longer need to be outsourced. That agreement can now come from your own doctors.
The draft proposal also states that all practices should offer this service, and if they can't, then they must refer you to somewhere that can. Speaking to the BBC, Paul Chrisp, director of NICE's Centre for Guidelines, stressed the importance of this new proposal: "Choosing to terminate a pregnancy is an important part of reproductive health for many women, which is why it's essential that providers are able to offer consistent support and advice."
Professor Lesley Regan, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which helped to draw up the guidance, also contended that this new proposal should "help address significant barriers that women experience." The draft proposal will be out for consultation until May, and I'm hoping it'll make a real positive impact for women across the UK.
If you ask me, it's about time that those in high up medical positions rethink and readdress their conduct towards women. With more consistency and better guidelines, I'm hoping that will happen. I believe this new proposal will allow women to navigate their choices more freely. This is just the start of a much needed-change at an institutional level within the medical system, and long may it continue, I say.