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 8 FEB ’22 – TAKE ACTION

Act now and ask your MP to end ‘DIY’ abortion

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The Government is due to make a decision on whether to end ‘DIY’ at-home abortion services as the current temporary policy allowing them expires after 30 March 2022.

Over the last week, the abortion lobby, led by abortion provider BPAS, have ramped up their campaign to put pressure on the Government to make these dangerous abortion services available permanently.

It’s now vital that it is clear to MPs that these dangerous abortion services must be ended.

Please enter your postcode in the field above to contact your MP to make it clear that these at-home abortion services must be ended.

The resource below outlines seven key reasons for the Government to end ‘DIY’ abortion as soon as possible.

reason one
reason line

High risk of coercion and abuse

‘At-home’ abortion presents a high risk of coercion and abuse since it is impossible to verify that the woman’s remote consultation is being held in privacy.

  • Anyone – a family member, friend or abuser – could intentionally or unintentionally overhear the phone or video consultation, infringing on the woman’s privacy and confidentiality.
  • This poses a threat to vulnerable women and girls who are at risk from an abusive partner, sex trafficking or child-sex abuse, as the ‘at-home’ abortion could be used by their abusers to disguise trafficking or abuse scandals.
  • Indeed, as a 2019 article in a leading medical journal states, “Potential for misuse and coercion is high when there is no way to verify who is consuming the medication and whether she is doing so willingly. Sex traffickers, incestuous abusers, and coercive boyfriends will all welcome more easily available medical abortion.”
  • As recognised by the then Health Minister Lord Bethell prior to the Government’s U-turn on ‘at-home’ abortions: “If there is an abusive relationship and no legal requirement for a doctor’s involvement, it is far more likely that a vulnerable woman could be pressured into having an abortion by an abusive partner.”
  • In May 2020, the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) submitted the following in evidence to a recent Parliamentary inquiry: “Without face-to-face consultations, picking up on safeguarding issues, domestic abuse and teenage pregnancy are lost […] Remote and online services are a complement, not a substitute, to face-to-face consultations and, irrespective of consultation modality, best practice and guidelines must be observed to ensure safety and quality of care.
  • Given that domestic abuse and coercion remain ever-present threats to women’s health and safety, perhaps especially in the midst of a pandemic and associated lockdown measures, it is unreasonable to weaken such a substantial safeguard by removing the protection of women’s privacy and confidentiality that comes from an in-person consultation.
read more
  • Anyone – a family member, friend or abuser – could intentionally or unintentionally overhear the phone or video consultation, infringing on the woman’s privacy and confidentiality.
  • This poses a threat to vulnerable women and girls who are at risk from an abusive partner, sex trafficking or child-sex abuse, as the ‘at-home’ abortion could be used by their abusers to disguise trafficking or abuse scandals.
  • Indeed, as a 2019 article in a leading medical journal states, “Potential for misuse and coercion is high when there is no way to verify who is consuming the medication and whether she is doing so willingly. Sex traffickers, incestuous abusers, and coercive boyfriends will all welcome more easily available medical abortion.”
  • As recognised by the then Health Minister Lord Bethell prior to the Government’s U-turn on ‘at-home’ abortions: “If there is an abusive relationship and no legal requirement for a doctor’s involvement, it is far more likely that a vulnerable woman could be pressured into having an abortion by an abusive partner.”
  • In May 2020, the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) submitted the following in evidence to a recent Parliamentary inquiry: “Without face-to-face consultations, picking up on safeguarding issues, domestic abuse and teenage pregnancy are lost […] Remote and online services are a complement, not a substitute, to face-to-face consultations and, irrespective of consultation modality, best practice and guidelines must be observed to ensure safety and quality of care.
  • Given that domestic abuse and coercion remain ever-present threats to women’s health and safety, perhaps especially in the midst of a pandemic and associated lockdown measures, it is unreasonable to weaken such a substantial safeguard by removing the protection of women’s privacy and confidentiality that comes from an in-person consultation.
reason two
reason line

Providers cannot ensure that pills are used safely and legally

Abortion providers cannot ensure that ‘at-home’ abortion pills are taken by the intended person in the intended circumstances within the intended time.

  • A nationwide undercover investigation that concluded in early July 2020 found evidence of abortion providers putting women at significant risk, seemingly by not carrying out basic checks before sending abortion pills by post, showing that the scheme is open to abuse and facilitating abortions beyond the legal limit.
  • In the investigation led by public health consultant Kevin Duffy, a former Global Director of Clinics Development at Marie Stopes International, all 26 requests by volunteers were successful in acquiring mifepristone and misoprostol using false names, dates of birth, and gestational dates. In one case, pills were provided to a volunteer who gave a date that could only have led to a termination beyond the legal 10-week limit for ‘at-home’ abortions. Clearly, this service can be manipulated by a third party to obtain abortion pills without scrutiny, which is a serious concern for underage sexual abuse victims, as well as individuals who may seek to put abortion pills in a woman’s food or drink.
  • The investigation’s ‘mystery client exercise’ also found the ‘at-home’ abortion scheme is being used to offer abortions on demand for effectively any reason that could be interpreted as negatively impacting the woman’s mental health. For example, BPAS have posted abortion pills to women for reasons including wanting a “beach body” on holiday. In the video, a BPAS call handler can be heard telling the woman “any reason other than the sex of the baby is a valid reason” to have an abortion, but added they needed to “attach” a legal reason.
  • A second mystery client investigation conducted between November 2020 and January 2021 found that there had been no change in the behaviour of abortion providers despite assurances from the Care Quality Commission in November 2020 that “follow up with the three main abortion providers (MSI, BPAS, and NUPAS) has prompted steps to significantly strengthen the premedical abortion screening process,” and, subsequently, that “all three providers have strengthened their screening process following the initial concerns – this has included additional steps to ensure more specific details about menstrual periods are obtained prior to any medical abortion.”
  • In May 2020, it was revealed that police were investigating the death of an unborn baby in England after its mother took ‘at-home’ abortion pills while 28 weeks pregnant. In addition, abortion provider BPAS disclosed they were investigating a further eight cases of women taking ‘at-home’ abortion pills beyond the 10-week limit, raising questions over what checks are being conducted to ensure the law isn’t being broken and dangerous late-term abortions are not happening.
  • A recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed that between January and June 2020, 12 ‘at-home’ abortions past ten weeks gestation were performed in England and Wales where both sets of pills were taken at home.
read more
  • A nationwide undercover investigation that concluded in early July 2021 found evidence of abortion providers putting women at significant risk, seemingly by not carrying out basic checks before sending abortion pills by post, showing that the scheme is open to abuse and facilitating abortions beyond the legal limit.
  • In the investigation led by public health consultant Kevin Duffy, a former Global Director of Clinics Development at Marie Stopes International, all 26 requests by volunteers were successful in acquiring mifepristone and misoprostol using false names, dates of birth, and gestational dates. In one case, pills were provided to a volunteer who gave a date that could only have led to a termination beyond the legal 10-week limit for ‘at-home’ abortions. Clearly, this service can be manipulated by a third party to obtain abortion pills without scrutiny, which is a serious concern for underage sexual abuse victims, as well as individuals who may seek to put abortion pills in a woman’s food or drink.
  • The investigation’s ‘mystery client exercise’ also found the ‘at-home’ abortion scheme is being used to offer abortions on demand for effectively any reason that could be interpreted as negatively impacting the woman’s mental health. For example, BPAS have posted abortion pills to women for reasons including wanting a “beach body” on holiday. In the video, a BPAS call handler can be heard telling the woman “any reason other than the sex of the baby is a valid reason” to have an abortion, but added they needed to “attach” a legal reason.
  • A second mystery client investigation conducted between November 2020 and January 2021 found that there had been no change in the behaviour of abortion providers despite assurances from the Care Quality Commission in November 2020 that “follow up with the three main abortion providers (MSI, BPAS, and NUPAS) has prompted steps to significantly strengthen the premedical abortion screening process,” and, subsequently, that “all three providers have strengthened their screening process following the initial concerns – this has included additional steps to ensure more specific details about menstrual periods are obtained prior to any medical abortion.”
  • In May 2020, it was revealed that police were investigating the death of an unborn baby in England after its mother took ‘at-home’ abortion pills while 28 weeks pregnant. In addition, abortion provider BPAS disclosed they were investigating a further eight cases of women taking ‘at-home’ abortion pills beyond the 10-week limit, raising questions over what checks are being conducted to ensure the law isn’t being broken and dangerous late-term abortions are not happening.
  • A recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed that between January and June 2020, 12 ‘at-home’ abortions past ten weeks gestation were performed in England and Wales where both sets of pills were taken at home.
reason three
reason line

Women’s health and safety is endangered by ‘at-home’ abortion

‘At-home’ abortion has placed the health and safety of women and girls across England and Wales in danger.

  • A leaked email from a Regional Chief Midwife at NHS England revealed that women had to attend Emergency Departments for a range of incidents including “significant pain and bleeding related to the process through to ruptured ectopics”, “major resuscitation for major haemorrhage”, and incidents involving the “delivery of infants who are up to 30 weeks gestation”.
  • A recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request found that between 1 April and 30 November 2020, NHS England and Improvement had notified the Care Quality Commission of 32 “serious incidents” relating to early medical abortion, 29 of which saw the women suffer serious complications (the CQC notes that serious incidents are those requiring hospital treatment for complications ranging from “delivery of fetuses of unexpected gestation, incomplete abortion with retained products of conception, and ectopic pregnancies”). Of these 29 cases, 17 resulted from ‘at-home’ abortions.
  • A recent study based on FOI requests to NHS Trusts found that more than 10,000 women who took at least one abortion pill at home provided by the NHS in 2020 needed hospital treatment for side-effects, equivalent to more than 1 in 17 women, or 20 women per day needing hospital treatment. Concerningly, the lack of a routine in-person consultation or follow-up in the case of ‘at-home’ abortion likely further adds to the significant risks that the use of medical abortion pills carry for the health and safety of women and girls across the country.
  • The risk to women’s health is also acknowledged by abortion pill manufacturers. Ranbaxy (UK) Limited, manufacturer of the mifepristone/misoprostol combination packet provided by BPAS through the post to clients, states there is a “non-negligible risk of treatment failure which occurs in 4.5% to 7.8% of the cases” and that “the patient should be informed that surgical treatment may be required to achieve complete abortion”. Similarly, Linepharma, which manufactures mifepristone used by MSI Reproductive Choices, warns that the “non-negligible risk of failure, which occurs in up to 7.6% of the cases, makes the control visit mandatory in order to check that the expulsion is completed.”
read more
  • A leaked email from a Regional Chief Midwife at NHS England revealed that women had to attend Emergency Departments for a range of incidents including “significant pain and bleeding related to the process through to ruptured ectopics”, “major resuscitation for major haemorrhage”, and incidents involving the “delivery of infants who are up to 30 weeks gestation”.
  • A recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request found that between 1 April and 30 November 2020, NHS England and Improvement had notified the Care Quality Commission of 32 “serious incidents” relating to early medical abortion, 29 of which saw the women suffer serious complications (the CQC notes that serious incidents are those requiring hospital treatment for complications ranging from “delivery of fetuses of unexpected gestation, incomplete abortion with retained products of conception, and ectopic pregnancies”). Of these 29 cases, 17 resulted from ‘at-home’ abortions.
  • A recent study based on FOI requests to NHS Trusts found that more than 10,000 women who took at least one abortion pill at home provided by the NHS in 2020 needed hospital treatment for side-effects, equivalent to more than 1 in 17 women, or 20 women per day needing hospital treatment. Concerningly, the lack of a routine in-person consultation or follow-up in the case of ‘at-home’ abortion likely further adds to the significant risks that the use of medical abortion pills carry for the health and safety of women and girls across the country.
  • The risk to women’s health is also acknowledged by abortion pill manufacturers. Ranbaxy (UK) Limited, manufacturer of the mifepristone/misoprostol combination packet provided by BPAS through the post to clients, states there is a “non-negligible risk of treatment failure which occurs in 4.5% to 7.8% of the cases” and that “the patient should be informed that surgical treatment may be required to achieve complete abortion”. Similarly, Linepharma, which manufactures mifepristone used by MSI Reproductive Choices, warns that the “non-negligible risk of failure, which occurs in up to 7.6% of the cases, makes the control visit mandatory in order to check that the expulsion is completed.”
reason four
reason line

Greater risk of complications

Women face greater risk of complications from ‘at-home’ abortion than from other forms of medical and surgical abortion.

  • Ultrasounds before abortion are not only used at times to determine accurate gestational dates but also for diagnosing ectopic pregnancies, which may be asymptomatic and can rupture if untreated. This is vital as mifepristone does not terminate pregnancies that are not implanted in the uterus, and undiagnosed ectopic pregnancies may rupture, resulting in serious bleeding and even death in extreme cases.
  • Tragically, a 2005 study reviewing the deaths of five women after taking medical abortion pills found that four were specifically “due to endometritis and toxic shock syndrome associated with Clostridium sordellii and one “whose death was attributed to a ruptured ectopic pregnancy”.
  • This is especially concerning in relation to ‘at-home’ abortion, given that it is impossible to confirm ectopic pregnancies via a phone call.
  • Further demonstrating the importance of routine ultrasound, a study published in January 2021 found a higher rate of women presenting with ruptured ectopic pregnancies during the Covid-19 pandemic (58% vs. 17% previously). In the control group (women who presented for ectopic pregnancy prior to the pandemic), 53% had ultrasounds, and again only 17% had ruptured ectopic pregnancies; verses during the pandemic when only 10% of women had ultrasounds prior to the day of hospitalisation, and 58% then experienced ruptured ectopic pregnancies. Notably, the study stresses that “healthcare providers should be alerted to this collateral damage in the non-infected population during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
  • Studies also show more complications from medical than surgical abortions.
  • A Finnish study of over 42,000 women receiving abortions up to 9 weeks’ gestation (63 days) found that the rate of complications was 4 times higher in medical than surgical abortions. Furthermore, the rate of haemorrhage was found to be over 7 times higher for medical than surgical abortions and the rate of surgical evacuation was over 3 times higher for medical than surgical abortions.
  • A 2018 Swedish study of nearly 5,000 induced abortions over 8 years from 2008 to 2015 inclusive found that the complication rate for medical abortions before 12 weeks’ gestation (7.3%) was substantially higher than that for surgical abortions (5.2%).
  • It also discovered that the complication rate for medical abortions before 12 weeks’ gestation almost doubled from 4.2% in 2008 to 8.2% in 2015, concluding that the significant surge in complications, while unknown, “may be associated with a shift from hospital to home medical abortions.”
read more
  • Ultrasounds before abortion are not only used at times to determine accurate gestational dates but also for diagnosing ectopic pregnancies, which may be asymptomatic and can rupture if untreated. This is vital as mifepristone does not terminate pregnancies that are not implanted in the uterus, and undiagnosed ectopic pregnancies may rupture, resulting in serious bleeding and even death in extreme cases.
  • Tragically, a 2005 study reviewing the deaths of five women after taking medical abortion pills found that four were specifically “due to endometritis and toxic shock syndrome associated with Clostridium sordellii and one “whose death was attributed to a ruptured ectopic pregnancy”.
  • This is especially concerning in relation to ‘at-home’ abortion, given that it is impossible to confirm ectopic pregnancies via a phone call.
  • Further demonstrating the importance of routine ultrasound, a study published in January 2021 found a higher rate of women presenting with ruptured ectopic pregnancies during the Covid-19 pandemic (58% vs. 17% previously). In the control group (women who presented for ectopic pregnancy prior to the pandemic), 53% had ultrasounds, and again only 17% had ruptured ectopic pregnancies; verses during the pandemic when only 10% of women had ultrasounds prior to the day of hospitalisation, and 58% then experienced ruptured ectopic pregnancies. Notably, the study stresses that “healthcare providers should be alerted to this collateral damage in the non-infected population during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
  • Studies also show more complications from medical than surgical abortions.
  • A Finnish study of over 42,000 women receiving abortions up to 9 weeks’ gestation (63 days) found that the rate of complications was 4 times higher in medical than surgical abortions. Furthermore, the rate of haemorrhage was found to be over 7 times higher for medical than surgical abortions and the rate of surgical evacuation was over 3 times higher for medical than surgical abortions.
  • A 2018 Swedish study of nearly 5,000 induced abortions over 8 years from 2008 to 2015 inclusive found that the complication rate for medical abortions before 12 weeks’ gestation (7.3%) was substantially higher than that for surgical abortions (5.2%).
  • It also discovered that the complication rate for medical abortions before 12 weeks’ gestation almost doubled from 4.2% in 2008 to 8.2% in 2015, concluding that the significant surge in complications, while unknown, “may be associated with a shift from hospital to home medical abortions.”
reason five
reason line

Complications from ‘at-home’ abortion are likely under-reported

Evidence further suggests that the complication rate for ‘at-home’ abortion is likely to be significantly higher than suggested in official statistics, which is deeply concerning as a threat to women’s health.

  • Data from the Department of Health and Social Care (for England and Wales) show only five complications following an ‘at-home’ abortion (out of a total of 72,079 home medical abortions) during the period April to December 2020.
  • Unbelievably, this would mean that the average rate of complications for medical abortions for similar gestations (3-9 weeks) over the past six years was almost ten times higher than the complication rate for ‘at-home’ abortions this year, which seems highly unlikely.
  • Furthermore, out of 104,356 medical abortions where one or both pills were taken in clinic, there were 127 reported complications in 2020, leaving a complication rate of 1.22 complications per 1,000 abortions. Yet again, it seems highly unlikely that the complication rate would be drastically lower when a woman is away from a clinic (only 0.06 complications per 1,000 abortions), and it suggests that complications are not being reported.
    • Notably, the Department for Health and Social Care consultation paper on ‘at-home’ abortion states abortion “is not risk-free”, and acknowledges the official data on complications from the 2019 Abortion Statistics for England and Wales “is incomplete” as “it is not possible to fully verify complications recorded on abortion notification forms and complications that occur after discharge may not be always be recorded. For example, for terminations in 2019 where the second EMA pill [misoprostol] was administered at home, complications may be less likely to be recorded on the abortion notification form.”
  • Given that the abortion complication form must be completed within a 14-day timeframe, potentially before women even take the pills, (indeed, as found by BPAS, some women wait more than a week after receiving the pills before taking them), it seems highly unlikely that all complications would be noted on the form.
  • Therefore under-reporting of complications is likely occurring as complications could be reported after the form has been returned to the Chief Medical Officer and beyond the 14-day timeframe for returning the notification forms.
  • A recent study found that abortion providers and the Department for Health and Social Care are likely not reporting medical abortion failure as a complication, despite at least 5.9% of women who use abortion pills needing hospital treatment because of this failure. This study compared data recorded by the DHSC with data from freedom of information requests to NHS Trusts and found that, on average, fewer than 1 in 5 complications that occur are being reported by the DHSC and abortion providers.
read more
  • Data from the Department of Health and Social Care (for England and Wales) show only five complications following an ‘at-home’ abortion (out of a total of 72,079 home medical abortions) during the period April to December 2020.
  • Unbelievably, this would mean that the average rate of complications for medical abortions for similar gestations (3-9 weeks) over the past six years was almost ten times higher than the complication rate for ‘at-home’ abortions this year, which seems highly unlikely.
  • Furthermore, out of 104,356 medical abortions where one or both pills were taken in clinic, there were 127 reported complications in 2020, leaving a complication rate of 1.22 complications per 1,000 abortions. Yet again, it seems highly unlikely that the complication rate would be drastically lower when a woman is away from a clinic (only 0.06 complications per 1,000 abortions), and it suggests that complications are not being reported.
    • Notably, the Department for Health and Social Care consultation paper on ‘at-home’ abortion states abortion “is not risk-free”, and acknowledges the official data on complications from the 2019 Abortion Statistics for England and Wales “is incomplete” as “it is not possible to fully verify complications recorded on abortion notification forms and complications that occur after discharge may not be always be recorded. For example, for terminations in 2019 where the second EMA pill [misoprostol] was administered at home, complications may be less likely to be recorded on the abortion notification form.”
  • Given that the abortion complication form must be completed within a 14-day timeframe, potentially before women even take the pills, (indeed, as found by BPAS, some women wait more than a week after receiving the pills before taking them), it seems highly unlikely that all complications would be noted on the form.
  • Therefore under-reporting of complications is likely occurring as complications could be reported after the form has been returned to the Chief Medical Officer and beyond the 14-day timeframe for returning the notification forms.
  • A recent study found that abortion providers and the Department for Health and Social Care are likely not reporting medical abortion failure as a complication, despite at least 5.9% of women who use abortion pills needing hospital treatment because of this failure. This study compared data recorded by the DHSC with data from freedom of information requests to NHS Trusts and found that, on average, fewer than 1 in 5 complications that occur are being reported by the DHSC and abortion providers.
reason
reason line

Polling shows most women and GPs have serious concerns

Polling has shown that the vast majority of women and GPs have serious concerns about the impact of ‘at-home’ abortion on the health and safety of women and girls.

GPs

  • Polling of GPs showed that 86% surveyed across the UK were concerned about women having a medical abortion past the legal limit of ten weeks’ gestation. Concern was highest among female doctors (91%).
    6 in 7 GPs
    GPs are concerned that the policy could see more women being coerced into abortion.86%
    were concerned that women were at risk of being coerced into abortion by a family member or partner.
    87%
    were concerned that women were at risk of unwanted abortion arising from domestic abuse by partners controlling or monitoring their actions.
    82%
    were concerned about the possibility of abortion pills being falsely obtained for another person, and 90% agreed it is concerning that callers giving false information can easily obtain abortion drugs.
    94%
    agreed that staff at abortion providers need to ensure that they are collecting correct medical and personal information to certify a woman for a home abortion, and that it is important that checks are put in place to ensure women being certified for abortion meet the legal criteria.

General population

  • Polling of the general population in England has found that an overwhelming majority of the general public, especially women, are concerned about the safety, quality, and legal issues arising from ‘at-home’ abortion.
    71%
    of the general population and 75% of women said they were concerned about women undergoing an abortion at home.84%
    of women were worried about women having an ‘at-home’ abortion beyond ten weeks of gestation, given that the risks of complications from medical abortions increase with gestational age.86%
    of women were concerned about women being at risk of being coerced into an abortion by a partner or family member during the ‘at-home’ abortion process, where a doctor does not see the woman in person.
    83%
    of women were concerned by the possibility of abortion pills being falsely obtained for another person.
  • Previous polling undertaken in England, Scotland, and Wales has shown that:
    92%
    of women agreed that a woman requesting an abortion should always be seen in person by a qualified doctor.77%
    of women agreed that doctors should be required by law to verify in person that a patient seeking an abortion is not under pressure from a third party.
reason seven
reason line

First hand testimony of awful experiences of ‘at-home’ abortion

A number of women have started speaking out about their disturbing experiences of ‘at-home’ abortions, including being unable to access treatment for complications or follow-up care.

“It was a lot worse than I'd expected. The pain, the physical process was horrible.”
  • Courtney Barnes, a 27-year-old mother of three from Kent, received ‘at-home’ abortion pills in the post on 1 May 2020 after a phone consultation with Marie Stopes UK.
  • Courtney revealed to the Mail later that month that “it was quite painful – really strong cramping”.
  • Courtney further described how, during an ‘at-home’ abortion, “‘You do pass a lot of blood and I was warned I might see the foetus, so I sat on the toilet and didn’t look. I ended up lying in the bath trying to keep the pains at bay and I didn’t get much sleep that night. It was a lot worse than I’d expected. The pain, the physical process was horrible”. 
  • To Courtney’s shock, there was no routine follow-up call with a doctor or nurse, aside from a single text reminder after a couple of weeks to use a pregnancy test.
  • Even more concerningly, Courtney subsequently tested positive on two pregnancy tests despite undergoing a painful and difficult ‘at-home’ abortion:
    • “I hadn’t considered that as a possibility, and because of the pain and blood, I’d felt that the procedure had been successful”
  • As the Mail article concluded, “It’s not a position any woman would want to be in. Is Courtney still pregnant and, if so, what effect has the procedure had on the foetus? These are distressing questions”
“I dread to think of how many teenage girls have gone through this during the pandemic.”
  • A 39-year-old woman who preferred to remain anonymous described to the Mail last May how an ‘at-home’ abortion “left her in such pain she was convinced she was going to die”
  • She disclosed she was unable to ring for advice (and thus unable to access treatment for complications), in the presence of her partner, whom she described as “very controlling”.
  • She was surprised by the lack of any counselling or clinical consultation before being sent abortion pills.
  • She recalled how “I was asked on the phone before I went to the clinic what my reasons were for having a termination, but that was it” and that “it all seemed so fast. I was expecting to speak to lots of people, to be offered counselling”
  • Worryingly, she noted that “It didn’t feel like a medical procedure. It took me less time to sort out than to do my Asda shopping”
  • Her detailed description of the physical pain of ‘at-home’ abortion is deeply disturbing:
    • “I understood I was going to have cramps, but I didn’t realise just how bad it was going to be”
    • “About six hours later the pain was unbearable. I was lying on my bathroom floor, curled in a ball. I was sweating, my temperature was 39.8, I couldn’t move”
    • “I had diarrhoea, I was being sick, I was shivering, shaking, sweating. I thought I was going to die”
    • “The next day I felt really sick, faint and dizzy. I’m still bleeding even now, a few weeks on […] I felt ill for four or five days afterwards.”
  • “I dread to think of how many teenage girls have gone through this during the pandemic.”
“I began to experience the most excruciating pain. It continued to escalate that evening to the extent I thought I was going to die.”
  • A nurse in her 30s who suffered extreme complications from ‘at-home’ abortion that left her needing surgery claimed that, after being told “the pain would be no more than a bad period pain and that 98% of women do not experience complications”, she not only experienced “excruciating pain” that left her feeling like she was going to die, but also had heavy bleeding, which continued for ten days after the ‘at-home’ abortion.
  • She claims that she received no follow-up care from Marie Stopes but was instead told that their counsellors were too busy and that she could not get an appointment.
  • After going to a hospital for an internal scan, she was informed that there were still “products of conception” inside her that still had a blood supply, despite undergoing the painful ‘at-home’ abortion, leading to her having surgery.
  • She expressed her shock that “the UK, with all of our research and expertise would approve this […] It just feels like we are going backwards and that covid is an excuse to not treat women with respect.”
  • She criticised judges who ruled in favour of ‘at-home’ abortion. She has accused the government of offering “backwards” healthcare during the pandemic and is calling for “proper assessments for women in crisis pregnancies rather than being rushed through a process which leaves them traumatised for the rest of their lives.
  • She has said that she suffers from PTSD and is struggling to return to work.
  • She is “keen to start a support group connecting women who have had similar experiences”; specifically, she is calling for women in crisis pregnancy to be properly assessed, “rather than being rushed through a process which leaves them traumatised for the rest of their lives”.
  • She is quoted as saying that she is “horrified that in a country where there’s a lot of domestic abuse going on that we could allow a system that could give this pill […] there’s not enough checks […] would they allow their daughters or partners to go through this alone in their home without any medical checks?”
  • She is also considering legal action for medical negligence.
“I was never offered a scan. They never knew how far along I was.”
  • Natalia was 19 when she had an abortion at home. Natalia shared: Natalia knew that the baby’s father was opposed to the idea of continuing the pregnancy so she felt too scared to voice her own thoughts. This prompted her to go to the abortion centre; ‘I was doing anything to please him’. 
  • ‘Unlike some women who have DIY abortions, Natalia did actually visit an abortion centre […] In fact Natalia had three appointments booked at the abortion centre, each time she was too emotionally distraught to continue with the termination. Finally, on the third visit, she was offered the pills to take home as it was suggested it might be easier […] ‘In the 3 consultations I was never told of the risks, emotionally or physically’ she said ‘I was never offered a scan. They never knew how far along I was. It’s crazy now I look back on it that I was even able to take those tablets home.’ Natalia couldn’t bring herself to take the pills for a further 3 weeks by which time she was over the 10-week legal limit. This resulted in not only severe pain but profuse bleeding.”
  • Natalia took the pills in a friend’s garden after encouragement from her friends to have an abortion. She didn’t tell her mother or teenage sister who she lived with that she had had an abortion as she felt too fearful of talking about it at home.
  • She recalls: “I remember somehow getting to the toilet, it was unbearable the pain, and that’s when I passed my baby. I looked down and saw him, it wasn’t like a heavy period, it was like a baby. I must have flushed it down the toilet and I remember just falling to my knees…I just lay in my bed and I was bleeding through the mattress, and I laid there for about three days on my own”.
  • Natalia’s experience raises many concerns; that no one picked up on the fact she was in a manipulative relationship and no scan was offered, that a visibly emotional young woman was offered pills to take at home, that medical professionals she spoke to just accepted that she was 7 weeks pregnant because she told them that, that Natalia kept the pills for three weeks before taking them and then experienced a traumatic abortion totally alone.

“I was left bleeding really heavily for months. To the extent I couldn’t even take a walk without the risk of making a mess of myself.”
  • Kirsty, in her thirties, has described her experience of ‘at-home’ abortion, in which she experienced complications: “….it was a dangerous procedure. I was left bleeding really heavily for months. To the extent I couldn’t even take a walk without the risk of making a mess of myself.” 
  • Kirsty was just over the 10 week legal limit for ‘at-home’ abortion when she received the pills, but didn’t take them immediately: “I did look at the box for a couple of days thinking I couldn’t do this” she said “but I couldn’t speak to anybody. There was nobody that I could phone just to get some sort of perspective.
  • Her experience demonstrates that a phone call is not enough to determine coercion. Kirsty describes how in the one phone call she had before her abortion her voice was shaking and that “anybody could have told that it wasn’t even that I wasn’t sure, it was that I didn’t want to do it […] I was in a very manipulative and controlling relationship so I thought I only had one choice, but I didn’t have one choice.” She states: “during the phone consultation I wasn’t offered any sort of pre-appointment such as a scan to determine how far gone I was or whether the procedure would be safe. I would have liked the scan because I think it would have helped look at things in a different way…” She thinks if she had “had been given the option to speak to somebody such as like a counseller before coming to the decision of having an abortion, my decision wouldn’t have been what I made back then and I would have my baby with me now.
  • Kirsty also shares how having an abortion at home had a traumatic effect on her:  “The at-home abortion is being made to make you think you are doing it in the comfort of your own home […] Without having to travel to a clinic or a hospital, but then you’ve got the memory of the loss of your child in your own home forever. So now to me my home is not my home, my happy safe place, it’s the place where it took away my child, so I can never sort of think of my home [as] the happy safe place it’s always been.”

Act now

Act now and ask your MP to end ‘DIY’ abortion