Leading Scottish doctor outlines serious issues with ‘DIY’ home abortions

A leading Scottish doctor has voiced opposition to the proposed extension of ‘DIY’ home abortions in Scotland.

Since the coronavirus lockdown, women in Scotland and across England and Wales have been able to take both pills required in a medical abortion at home.

Despite serious and mounting safety concerns, the Scottish Government launched a public consultation on whether ‘DIY’ home abortions should continue once there is no longer a significant risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Coercion

Dr Antony Latham, chairman of the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, is strongly opposed.

The Isle of Harris GP spoke to the Daily Record about the multiple dangers which could affect women if ‘DIY’ home abortions are allowed on a permanent basis.

Chief among the doctor’s concerns was the possibility of women being coerced into an unwanted abortion. “One danger is that the woman is under pressure to have an abortion in an abusive relationship or from relatives who will not support her,” he said.

Dr Latham is also concerned women may be unaware of the risks involved.

“Significant bleeding and sepsis are not uncommon,” he says. “Another danger is she may not fully understand the trauma of having an abortion, potentially all alone, at home.”

Late-term abortions at home

And he has further fears that without any examination women may be getting the abortion pills for a pregnancy that is beyond the legal limit for such DIY abortions.

“There is already a report of a case where a woman at 28 weeks’ gestation took the pills and delivered a baby which subsequently died.”

He continued: “Deciding to have or not to have an abortion is such an important moment in a woman’s life. Any decision about this must be done only after unrushed face-to-face counselling…

Anyone who examines the facts will want to ensure proper face to face counselling to support any woman who is making such a huge and life-changing decision.”

Concerns amplified by real life cases

Sadly, Dr Latham’s concerns have been amplified by real life cases of women who have suffered complications and traumatic experiences after taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills.

This week, a nurse revealed that she was left fearing for her life and needing emergency surgery after taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills.

The woman is now considering legal action against Marie Stopes UK, who supplied her with the abortion pills, for clinical negligence after they failed to provide requested counselling and “rushed” her through the abortion process.

A number of other 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”.

‘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.

Euthanasia legislation expands to cover terminally ill children under-12 in Netherlands

Doctors will be able to euthanise children between the ages of one and 12 in the Netherlands under the country’s ever-expanding assisted suicide regime.

Deputy Prime Minister Hugo de Jonge, who also serves as the Health Minister, wrote to Dutch politicians this week outlining his plans to amend regulations to allow ‘active life termination’ for terminally ill children ages between one and 12.

Current law

Under the current law, non-voluntary euthanasia is available for Dutch babies who haven’t yet reached their first birthday.

Children between 12 and 15 can be euthanised with the approval of their parents, while those aged over 16 are eligible for euthanasia if they make a considered, voluntary request for it and if their suffering is “unbearable.”

As it stands, there is no euthanasia provision for children between the ages of 1 and 12.

‘Necessary’?

However, that looks set to change with de Jonge claiming a change in regulations is necessary to help prevent children from suffering.  

Despite months of debate and strong opposition from political parties, including his own – the Christian Democratic Appeal party – de Jonge noted in his letter that a parliamentary Bill wouldn’t be needed to introduce euthanasia for one 12 year-olds.

Instead, doctors will be exempt from prosecution if they carry euthanasia on someone in this age range if they do so to end “unbearable suffering”.

In their apparent attempt to circumvent parliamentary procedure, de Jonge says health bosses are working on policy updates alongside the Public Prosecution Service.

Euthanasia on the increase as safeguards are eroded

The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia when its Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act came into effect in 2002.

Since its introduction, the legislation has become more extreme and safeguards have been eroded.

Last year, 6,361 individuals lost their lives to euthanasia in the Netherlands – equating to 4% of the country’s total deaths. In addition, the Netherlands’ only euthanasia clinic revealed that it had seen a 22% increase in requests from people seeking assistance to end their lives in 2019, compared to 2018.

In June, a Dutch doctor, who was cleared of murder for euthanising a vulnerable woman with dementia, waived her anonymity to declare she did the “right thing”, even though her patient said “no” three times.

In an interview with Dutch current affairs programme Nieuwsuur, Marinou Arends attempted to justify her actions saying they were “for the best”.

Her comments come after a 2019 district court ruling in the Hague stating that doctors in the Netherlands can no longer be prosecuted for carrying out euthanasia on dementia patients who have previously given written consent.

Previously, those with dementia would need to reconfirm their earlier request.

Expanding euthanasia law

In July, a Dutch MP introduced a controversial Bill that would allow healthy people to have an assisted suicide if they feel their life is ‘complete’.

Pia Dijkstra, Foreign Minister for the four-party coalition Government and medical ethics lead for coalition party D66, submitted a Bill that would allow healthy individuals over the age of 75 to seek euthanasia if they have had “a strong death wish” for at least two months.

Outlining their opposition to similar proposals in 2017, the KNMG Royal Dutch Medical Association believes it could have the undesirable effect of stigmatising the aged population.

The medical association said that the government should invest in measures to make sure the elderly do not feel their lives are pointless, over the option of an early death.

Child euthanasia comes to the Netherlands

The Dutch government is preparing to legalize euthanasia for children between the ages of one and twelve.

Last year, the Dutch Ministry of Health commissioned a report from the NVK (Dutch Society of Pediatrics), which recommended the government permit euthanasia for terminally ill children of one to twelve years of age. The report included a survey of 72 doctors employed at prominent hospitals specializing in medical training. The majority stated that it is morally acceptable to euthanize preteen children who are suffering without prospect of improvement if their parents request it. Many surveyed parents also supported the proposal. This week, Hugo de Jonge, Dutch health minister and deputy prime minister, informed the Dutch Parliament that the government will be moving forward to draft and implement legislation for the new regulations proposed in the report.

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