The move will mean women can avoid bleeding and pain in public after travelling home from taking the pill at a clinic.
Women in England currently are required to take both pills, mifepristone and misoprostol, 24-48 hours apart in a clinic to end an early pregnancy before 10 weeks’ gestation.
The government said it will legalise home-use by the end of the year.
Women meeting certain criteria will still be required to attend a clinic for the administration of mifepristone, the first medication.
They will then be given the option of being discharged home to self-administer the second medication, misoprostol. If they prefer, they will still be able to attend a clinic.
In October 2017, Scotland became the first place in the UK where women could take the second abortion pill at home.
More than 100,000 women in England have early abortions each year and will be impacted by this change.
The move has been welcomed by campaigners.
Professor Lesley Regan, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), said: “This simple and practical measure will provide women with significantly more choice and is the most compassionate care we can give them.
“It will also improve access to safe and regulated abortion care and take pressure off NHS services.”
Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), said the decision “represents an outbreak of common sense”.
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said it will work with key partners including the RCOG to develop clinical guidance that all professionals will be expected to follow when providing the treatment option to patients.
Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said: “Abortion can be a difficult experience so it is important that women feel safe and as comfortable as possible.
“This decision will increase choice for women and help ensure they receive safe and dignified care.”
One of the groups campaigning for the change is the Women’s Equality Party (WEP).
Claudia Craig, 23, wrote an open letter published by the WEP to then health secretary Jeremy Hunt asking for the second pill to be available to be taken at home.
She explains how she almost miscarried in a taxi on her journey home from the hospital because she had to present herself to doctors to take the pill.
She wrote: “By law I had to take the pill at the hospital. I had no idea how quickly it would take effect.
“I was lucky I had enough money for a taxi – it was a 15-minute drive, but in those 15 minutes I turned pale green and could feel the process starting.”
When she got home she says she “collapsed almost as soon as I got inside” and began to vomit and miscarry on her bathroom floor.
On hearing the news, she said: “I’m so relieved that our voices have finally been heard, and that experiences like mine will be a thing of the past for women in England.
“Telling my story was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. But seeing today’s result has made it all worthwhile.”