ALLOWING women to take the abortion pill at home is “perfectly safe” and would bring an end to the “horrendous experience” of women haemorrhaging as they travel home from clinics, campaigners have said.

In a letter in today’s Herald, a number of pro-choice groups, trade unions and politicians hit back at a legal challenge mounted against the Scottish Government’s plan to enable women up to nine weeks pregnant to take the drug misoprostol at home, and urged ministers to “strongly fight” the legal action.

The letter, from London-based pro-choice campaigners, Abortion Rights, and signed by the leaders of organisations such as Marie Stopes UK and the Family Planning Association, said the policy was "in line with modern medicine".

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Misoprostol, which is taken in two steps, brings on bleeding which results in a termination.

It is already given to women in Scotland to take at home after they have suffered a miscarriage, but currently women seeking an abortion must take both the first and second pills in a clinic or hospital.

In their letter today, campaigners said the proposed change in policy would "end the horrendous experience of abortions commencing on public transport". They said it would also make access to abortion easier for women suffering domestic abuse or struggling to get to clinics due to work or childcare commitments.

They added: "In addition, it will benefit rural women who struggle geographically and financially to access such healthcare. Too often finding enough money for the required travel and accommodation is a huge obstacle in women’s access to abortion."

The change would bring Scotland in line with the United States, France and Sweden, but would be the first part of the UK to allow women to take the pill at home.

It comes days after the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children Scotland (SPUC), the world’s oldest pro-life group, sent a letter to Scotland's chief medical officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, warning that it would launch legal proceedings unless the proposals were dropped by January 5.

John Deighan, chief executive of the SPUC said he believed the action had "good prospects of success" based on legal advice suggesting that taking the pill at home contravened legislation in the Abortion Act 1967 that a medical practitioner or other clinical staff must be present.

Mr Deighan added: “This is an alarming development for our country and is deeply worrying. I have already said that the government scheme amounts to authorising backstreet abortions. And that is not being alarmist it is a simple fact. The potential health risks for mothers and their babies are horrific."

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government, which confirmed its plans in October, said the mean women were "in control of their treatment and as comfortable as possible during this procedure".