Scottish Govt launch ‘rigged’ consultation on whether to make ‘DIY’ abortions permanent

The Scottish Government has launched a public consultation on whether the temporary measure allowing ‘DIY’ home abortions should be made permanent.

It comes just weeks after the Scottish Government revealed its intention to expand access to abortion across the nation, despite Scotland’s most recent abortion figures being the second-highest on record.

Speaking in Holyrood earlier this month, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined her party’s intention to expand access to abortion as a “priority action” over the next 12 months.

Now, the Scottish Government is asking the public whether ‘DIY’ home abortions should continue once there is no longer a significant risk of COVID-19 transmission, despite significant and mounting safety concerns.

In the biggest change to abortion law since 1967, the UK Government announced on 30 March it would temporarily allow ‘DIY’ home abortions for the next two years or until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Just one day later, on 31 March, Scottish Ministers also approved ‘DIY’ home abortions. Scotland’s former Chief Medical Officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, wrote to NHS boards to encourage them to implement the change “as soon as possible”.

Both the Governments in Westminster and in Holyrood announced the very substantial change without any public consultation, parliamentary scrutiny or debate. 

While the Scottish Government has now launched a public consultation on ‘DIY’ home abortions, it has been criticised for being one-sided.

‘Rigged consultation’

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said: “The consultation is extremely one-sided. 

“Why is there no mention in the consultation background evidence that two women have died using these ‘DIY’ home abortion services? Surely that was relevant? Was it not relevant that police are investigating the death of an unborn baby after its mother took ‘DIY’ home abortion pills while 28 weeks’ pregnant or that one abortion provider was investigating a further thirteen ongoing investigations?

“The Scottish Government appears to have repeatedly ‘cherry-picked’ anything that supports making ‘DIY’ home abortions permanent and ignored evidence highlighting serious issues with the schemes.

“For example, in the background evidence to the consultation, the Scottish Government makes the claim that ‘Statistics have been published for January to June 2020 for England and Wales, which do show the Covid-19 arrangements have led to more women having their abortions at earlier gestations…’.” 

“While there has been an increase in the percentage of abortions prior to 10-weeks in 2020 compared to 2019, this appears to be part of a long term trend towards a higher percentage of abortions happening prior to 10 weeks, with year-on-year percentage increases happening each year for a number of years. The Scottish Government has chosen to not include this important context in the background evidence and then gone further by making the claim that ‘DIY’ home abortions have ‘led to more women having their abortion at earlier gestations’.

“The cherry-picking of evidence or views that only support introducing ‘DIY’ abortions is then repeated throughout the background evidence.

“This is clearly a rigged consultation which is seeking to make dangerous ‘DIY’ home abortion permanent in Scotland.

“We are calling on constituents in Scotland to make it clear to their MSPs that these dangerous ‘DIY’ home abortion schemes should be suspended immediately and not introduced on a permanent basis.”

Right To Life UK has launched an online tool allowing Scottish residents to contact their local MSPs and call for an immediate end to ‘DIY’ home abortions following the deaths of two women.

Significant problems

Since ‘DIY’ home abortions were introduced, a number of significant problems have arisen.

According to a leaked “urgent email” sent by a regional chief midwife at NHS England and NHS Improvement on the “escalating risks” of ‘DIY’ home abortions, two women have died after taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills.

The email leak also revealed police have opened a murder investigation into the death of a baby who they believe was born alive despite her mother taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills. 

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

The study also discovered ‘DIY’ home abortion pills can easily be obtained and administered to others, potentially in a coercive manner.

In May, it was revealed UK police were investigating the death of an unborn baby after its mother took ‘DIY’ home abortion pills while 28 weeks’ pregnant.

In addition, abortion provider BPAS said they were investigating a further eight cases of women taking ‘DIY’ 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 aren’t happening. 

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”.

What is a public consultation?

A public consultation is a process used by the Government, and other public bodies, which invites the public to provide their views and feedback on a particular proposal.

In the majority of consultations, responses can be submitted by both individuals and organisations.

Consultations last for a proportionate amount of time and consist of a limited number of clear, concise questions.

A consultation should help scrutinise a proposal and give an indicator of its public approval.