Press release – Pro-life victory as major attempt to hijack Domestic Abuse Bill with extreme abortion amendments fails

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Pro-life victory as major attempt to hijack Domestic Abuse Bill with extreme abortion amendments fails


An attempt to hijack the UK Government’s flagship Domestic Abuse Bill with two extreme abortion proposals has failed, in a major pro-life victory. 

The Speaker of the House, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, announced this afternoon that amendment New Clause 29, which would have introduced abortion for any reason up to 28 weeks, would not be selected for debate.

Diana Johnson MP then, this evening, announced that she would be withdrawing amendment New Clause 28 which would have allowed both medical and surgical abortions to take place in any location if a woman is in an abusive relationship.

If Diana Johnson had pushed the amendment to a vote and lost, this would have been the first time that a pro-abortion amendment or Bill had been defeated in a vote in UK history. 

It appears that the abortion lobby realised that it was very likely that Diana Johnson’s amendment was going to be defeated and encouraged the Labour MP to instead withdraw the amendment. 

Pro-life MP Fiona Bruce MP put forward an amendment calling for a review of the current temporary measures allowing ‘DIY’ abortions. This called for the Government to conduct an “an inquiry into the safety, number, and impact of abortions carried out under the temporary coronavirus crisis provisions where the place of abortion was the woman’s home”.

The Government subsequently agreed to a full inquiry into the temporary ‘DIY’ abortion measures.

A large number of MPs in the debate this evening spoke out against these attempts to hijack the Domestic Abuse Bill with extreme abortion amendments. This included stirring speeches from Fiona Bruce MP and Carla Lockhart MP, along with a number of MPs who don’t agree with the pro-life position on abortion but made it clear that the amendment was poorly drafted and would have had serious negative consequences for women in domestic abuse scenarios.

Amendment New Clause 28 would have allowed both medical and surgical abortions to take place in any location if a woman is in an abusive relationship. This amendment went far beyond the temporary measures that allow ‘DIY’ home telemedicine abortions, by making both medical and surgical abortions legal outside of a hospital or place approved by the Secretary of State. Current temporary measures allowing the home use of abortion pills are limited to 9 weeks and 6 days’ gestation for safety reasons. There was no similar time limit outlined in this amendment.

Amendment New Clause 29 would have made extreme changes to abortion legislation by repealing sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act. This would have left England and Wales with no abortion law through to 28 weeks. Almost all current legal safeguards on abortion would have been removed, up until when a child is capable of being born alive, with a ceiling of 28 weeks. This would have introduced abortion on demand, for any reason (including sex-selective abortion) up to 28 weeks. The change would have been the most extreme change to abortion legislation since 1967 and would have left England and Wales with one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world. 

The failed proposals were radically out of step with the opinions of women on abortion. Polling from Savanta ComRes on whether time limits for abortion should be increased shows that only 1% of women wanted the time limit to be extended; in contrast, 70% of women favour a reduction in time limits. The polling also showed that 77% of women agree that doctors should be required to verify in person that a patient seeking an abortion is not under pressure from a third party to undergo the abortion, and 91% of women agree that gender-selective abortion should be explicitly banned by the law.

Spokesperson for Right to Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“This is a major victory for the unborn child and women facing unplanned pregnancies. These amendments would have left the unborn child with considerably worse protections and removed many of the current safeguards which protect women facing unplanned pregnancies.

“Thank you to the thousands of people that rallied over the last week to get friends and family to email their MPs. MPs received more emails ahead of this vote than they have ever received ahead of an abortion vote.

“Thank you to the amazing group of pro-life MPs in Parliament who have worked so hard to ensure that these extreme amendments were defeated. 

“Thank you to the large number of organisations that have all come together to encourage their supporters to contact MPs and ensure this major attempt to introduce extreme abortion changes was defeated.

ENDS

  • For additional quotes and media interviews contact email press@righttolife.org.uk 
  • For further information on Right To Life UK visit www.righttolife.org.uk
  • SavantaComRes interviewed 2,008 British adults online between 12th and 14th May 2017. Data was weighted to be representative of all GB adults. SavantaComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
  • For further information on the extensive changes that NC29 would have introduced, please see this briefing: https://bit.ly/amendment-briefing-july

Nationwide undercover investigation reveals ‘DIY’ abortion service putting lives at risk

A nationwide undercover investigation has found further evidence of abortion providers putting women at significant risk by not carrying out basic checks before sending them ‘DIY’ home abortion pills.

Shortly after lockdown began, the UK Government controversially brought in a policy allowing ‘DIY’ home abortions without public consultation or parliamentary scrutiny.

Prior to the change, women seeking a termination would have to visit a clinic for an assessment from a healthcare professional – something the Government had said was an “essential safeguard” before their incredible U-turn on the issue.

Now, an investigation, commissioned by the Christian Legal Centre, has uncovered that ‘DIY’ home abortion schemes are wide open to abuse and could lead to dangerous and illegal late-term abortions.

As part of the undercover investigation, eight volunteers went through the process of acquiring mifepristone and misoprostol – the pills needed to perform a ‘DIY’ home abortion.

However, in every case, pills were sent to the volunteers, despite using false names, dates of birth and gestational dates.

In one case, ‘DIY’ home abortion pills were provided to a volunteer who gave a date that could only have led to a termination beyond the legal 10-week limit stated in the regulations.

Research participant Anna gave a gestation date on the cusp of the 9 weeks and 6 days, which would have put her over the limit at the start of the process. During a second call she changed the date of her last menstrual period to remain within the 9 weeks and 6 days limit and this was accepted without any questions being asked.

According to the Christian Legal Centre, all eight volunteers were rushed through the process. The legal advocacy group revealed that: “On one call, staff can be heard talking over the woman to quickly conclude the conversation by sending out the abortion pills.”

Parliamentary pressure for ‘DIY’ home abortions

The shocking results of the undercover investigations come ahead of a potential parliamentary vote today seeking to make ‘DIY’ home abortions available on a permanent basis, for women who are in an abusive relationship.

The radical amendment is being tabled by Labour MP Diana Johnson, along with a further amendment that could leave England and Wales with the most extreme abortion law in Europe.

Contrary to BPAS’ claims, and the aims of the Domestic Abuse Bill, allowing ‘DIY’ home abortions on a permanent basis would likely result in a far greater number of women being coerced or forced into an unwanted termination.

By making both medical and surgical abortions legal outside of a hospital setting or place approved by the Secretary of State, and removing the requirement for an in-person consultation, it will be difficult for physicians and providers to ascertain if abuse or coercion is involved.

The extreme change could compromise the privacy of the patient and, in theory, could allow an abuser to hide in the background of an ‘electronic’ consultation.

According to an investigation conducted by the Independent last year, already “one in seven women in the UK have been bullied into either getting pregnant or having an abortion.” The amendment being tabled by Diana Johnson does nothing to address this coercion and will likely make the situation much worse.

Earlier this year, a pharmacist and self-styled pastor, who sexually abused children, covered up his crimes on some of his vulnerable victims by obtaining medical abortion pills through his role as a pharmacist.

Additionally, Dr Gregory Gardner, a longstanding GP and honorary clinical lecturer at the University of Birmingham, has revealed how the radical proposed changes in law could open more children and women up to abuse and coerced abortion.

In an expert witness statement for a UK Court of Appeal legal challenge against ‘DIY’ home abortions, the leading doctor said: “It will be difficult if not impossible to verify by phone or video whether a woman is undergoing any kind of duress to have an abortion.

“There does not seem to have been any consideration given to this in the proposed change in policy. There will be women who need delicate counselling to discover coercion or other forms of abuse.”

Furthermore, by removing the 10-week limit, late-term abortions, similar to the one that caused the death of an unborn baby at 28 weeks in May, will likely become more commonplace.

In addition, it was revealed a further eight cases were being investigated of women taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills beyond the current 10-week limit.

A number of women have also come forward to share the serious problems they’ve experienced after taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills.

One woman said she went through “hell” and thought she was going to die after taking the dangerous pills.

Another woman said the pain and physical process was “horrible” and “a lot worse than expected”.

Pressure in Parliament for permanent home abortions

Last week, the UK Court of Appeal announced it would hear the Christian Legal Centre’s challenge against the UK Government’s decision to introduce ‘DIY’ home abortions.

Lord Justice Lewison ruled it is “arguable” that the Health Secretary Matt Hancock exceeded his powers under the 1967 Abortion Act when he designated “a pregnant woman’s home” as a permissible place for abortion. 

In granting permission for the judicial review, Lord Justice Lewison said that Christian Concern’s argument “has a real prospect of success”, and the Court of Appeal will now hold a public hearing imminently to decide whether Mr Hancock’s decision should be invalidated.

Catastrophic consequences for vulnerable pregnant women

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said: “This undercover operation has exposed the dangers to vulnerable women as a result of the change in the law. This unsafe, and frequently illegal service, is provided by an abortion industry which wields huge influence at the heart of UK government.

“Pre-action disclosure in our court case reveals the hot line abortion executives have to senior civil servants at the heart of the health and social care department. This has to be investigated and overhauled.

“If Diana Johnson’s amendments go forward on Monday there will be a parliamentary debate on whether to introduce to the UK some of the most extreme abortion laws in the world . 

“It would be an abuse of the Domestic Abuse Bill to hijack it in order to decriminalise abortion at any time for any reason up to 28 weeks.

“How can a civilised parliament even contemplate such a move when we know that babies born at less than 28 weeks have a strong chance of survival.

“The revelations of how these DIY abortion services are run and the lack of due process should cause MPs to think again and to reject these dangerous amendments.

“If the amendments go through they will have catastrophic consequences for vulnerable pregnant women and for our unborn children. Abortion figures are already at record levels and we should be working toward public policies which bring down abortion numbers not increase them.

“The abortion providers are shamelessly pushing these amendments in Parliament while ignoring the safety of women who ask for their services.

“The issue of abortion is coming to a head. This public health, mystery client exercise, conducted and regulated to the highest professional standards, has exposed the chilling disregard for proper process at the heart of the abortion industry.”

‘DIY’ home abortions must be ‘urgently withdrawn’

Kevin Duffy, a former Global Director of Clinics Development at Marie Stopes International, who led the undercover investigation, said: “The investigation clearly demonstrates that abortion at home by pills-by-post, is not safe, and on many occasions it oversteps legal boundaries without any proper scrutiny.

“Each of the scenarios revealed by this investigation would not have happened under the pre-lockdown process. Previously as part of the routine care, the woman would first be examined and assessed in a clinic by a professional service provider before being consented for an abortion, which could have resulted in her being able to safely self-administer both tablets at home.

“Women can self-refer for abortion services and do not need to be referred by their GP. Telemedicine means it is much harder to correctly identify the woman and what her gestational stage is. Service providers using the telemedicine process are solely reliant upon the accurate and honest self-assessment by the woman of the gestational age of her pregnancy, her self-reporting of the first day of her last period has replaced the routine examination by a service provider in a clinic.

“It is deeply concerning that the abortion industry has been allowed to take this service this far during an already highly vulnerable time for pregnant women. The process of wholly relying on telemedicine must be withdrawn urgently.”