ENGLAND must follow Scotland and Wales on abortion law, senior doctors have warned Jeremy Hunt.

The president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) is amongst leading reproductive health experts calling on Hunt to follow the “best practice” established in the devolved nations, where political leaders have moved to allow women to take termination pills at home.

The heads of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, and the British Society of Abortion Care Providers also branded English policy “out of step” and said laws on the issue are “no longer fit for purpose”.

In an editorial published in the medical journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health, they said: “We urge the Secretary of State for Health to use his powers to extend to women in England the same compassion, respect, and dignity that the Scottish and Welsh Governments have announced, so that all women can access safe, effective abortion care.”

The piece continued: “There can be no justification not to act unless the aim is to punish women having a legal abortion. The time for action is now.”

The claims centre around the Abortion Act 1967, which was written before the emergence of early medical abortion with the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol.

Professor Lesley Regan, Dr Asha Kasliwal, Dr Jonathan Lord and colleagues said there is “strong evidence” that the use of the second pill at home instead of in hospital, as allowed in Scotland and Wales, is safe, preferred by women and does not increase rates of termination.

They stated: “English practice is out of step with other countries, including Scotland and soon Wales, by requiring women to attend licensed premises (hospital or clinic) for the administration of both drugs on site.”

The call comes despite the launch of legal action against the change by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) Scotland.

Powers over abortion were devolved to Holyrood in 2016 but SPUC argues that the law change is not legal under the 1967 Act and represents “a threat to the health of women and their unborn babies”.

Yesterday a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Around 180,000 women have an abortion each year in England – our priority is always to ensure that care is safe and high quality.

“We will continue to monitor the evidence surrounding home use and will await the outcome of the judicial review in Scotland.”

Meanwhile, in a separate call, Theresa May has been urged to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland, despite the Tory alliance with the pro-life DUP.

Sandy Goldbeck-Wood, editor in chief of BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health, also wants the change brought in on the Isle of Man.

Writing on behalf of her editorial board colleagues, she said that the current legislation, which threatens life imprisonment in Northern Ireland, obstructs best clinical practice and argues action on this area would represent “a memorable act of courage and leadership”.