Select Page

46 MPs table amendment to reinstate in-person consultations for home abortions

A large cross-party group of MPs, led by Flick Drummond MP, have tabled an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill that would reinstate in-person consultations with a medical professional prior to an abortion taking place at home.

Drummond’s amendment is the third pro-life amendment to be added to the Criminal Justice Bill, alongside Caroline Ansell’s amendment to lower the abortion limit to 22 weeks, and Sir Liam Fox’s amendment to bring the abortion time limit for babies with Down’s syndrome in line with the time limit for babies that do not have disabilities. Drummond’s amendment is likely to be debated on Tuesday 4 June during the second day of Report Stage of the Bill.

The amendment has been signed by a cross-party group of 46 MPs including former Deputy PMs Thérèse Coffey and Damian Green, former leader of the Conservative Party and cabinet minister Sir Iain Duncan Smith, former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, former Cabinet minister Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, Labour MP Rachael Maskell and Maggie Throup, health minister responsible for abortion services when at-home abortion schemes were made permanent in March 2022. 

It would protect women by ensuring they have an in-person consultation with a medical professional before they could take abortion pills at home. This would enable an accurate assessment, in person, of any likely health risks for a woman taking abortion pills, her gestational age and the possibility of a coerced abortion.

Women would continue to be able to have a medical abortion at home, but with the vital safeguards that come with an in-person consultation.

On launching her amendment, Drummond told the Telegraph “Women using abortion pills at home without an in-person consultation are being put in danger from the serious risks associated with missed health issues, abortion coercion and the danger of self-administered late-term abortions”.  

“My amendment would reinstate in-person consultations, where medical professionals would have the opportunity to accurately assess, in-person, any likely health risks for a woman taking abortion pills, her gestational age and the possibility of a coerced abortion”.

“Women would continue to be able to have a medical abortion at home, but with the vital safeguards that come with an in-person consultation. This is a common-sense proposal that already has widespread support from across the House”.

Widespread support for amendment

Polling published in the Daily Telegraph today shows that 71% of women support the reinstatement of in-person appointments and only 9% are in favour of the status quo where there is no requirement to have an in-person appointment with a medical professional before having a medical abortion at home. In contrast, only 16% of the public support current proposals to decriminalise abortion.

Over 800 medical professionals have signed a letter to all 650 MPs outlining the risks of late-term at-home abortion and calling on MPs to make a law change to return to in-person consultations because of the health risks associated with taking pills without in-person oversight.

Since March 2022, the vital importance of in-person consultations has become clear

In June 2023, Carla Foster was found guilty of taking abortion pills prescribed by BPAS, Britain’s largest abortion provider, at 32-34 weeks gestation after admitting to lying about her gestational age and claiming to be 7 weeks pregnant. She described being traumatised by the face of her dead baby, whom she named Lily. 

If Carla Foster had been given an in-person appointment at BPAS where her gestation could have been accurately determined, she would not have been able to obtain abortion pills and this tragic case would have been prevented.

The small recent increase in such prosecutions for illegal late-term abortions, ending the lives of viable babies, is a direct result of the ‘pills-by-post’ scheme that means women are able to obtain abortion pills without an in-person consultation to accurately assess their gestational age or possible health risks such as an ectopic pregnancy.

This has been acknowledged by pro-abortion MPs and campaigners including Stella Creasy MP, abortion rights expert Dr Claire Pierson and major pro-choice leaning newspaper The Observer.

Government review

A Government review published in November 2023 found the complication rate for medical abortions at 20 weeks and over is 160.33 times higher when compared to medical abortions that occurred at 2 to 9 weeks.

The complication rate for women who perform their own medical abortions outside of a clinical setting at 10 weeks or beyond in a home abortion is likely to be even higher than the rates when an abortion is happening in a clinical setting. 

Such complications are far more likely without an in-person appointment where there is an opportunity to accurately assess gestation age, and would be even more likely if the current legal deterrent against late-term abortions was removed.

History of at-home abortion schemes

Telemedicine home abortions were originally introduced in March 2020 as a temporary measure during the pandemic.

In February 2022, the Government announced the scheme would end after running a consultation in which 70% of respondents called for an immediate end to at-home abortion schemes.

However, at-home abortion schemes were made permanently available via a backbench amendment moved in the House of Lords to the Health and Care Act in March 2022 that narrowly passed by just 27 votes in the Commons.

Given the major issues with at-home abortion schemes and the high-profile cases of women using the scheme to abort later in pregnancy, pro-abortion MPs will be facing a big battle to prevent this amendment from passing and stop their own amendments from failing, as MPs see that the solution to the major problems with these schemes is in-person appointments, not making them worse by removing key deterrents against performing an abortion at any point right through to birth.

Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said “Only two years ago, the vote to make at-home abortions permanently available passed by just 27 votes. A large number of MPs had serious concerns about the negative impact these schemes would have on women”. 

“Since then, we have seen these concerns borne out, with women such as Carla Foster performing at-home abortions well beyond the 24-week time limit, putting their health at serious risk. If Carla Foster had been given an in-person consultation, where her gestation could have been accurately determined, she would not have been able to access abortion pills and this tragic case would have been prevented”.

“The clear solution here is the urgent reinstatement of in-person appointments. This would prevent women’s lives from being put at risk from self-administered late-term abortions. It would also protect babies from having their lives ended in late-term home abortions, as baby Lily did”.

Dear reader,

Ahead of the General Election on 4 July, do you want to find out where your local MP candidates stand on abortion?

You can find out now using our Vote For Both Lives tool, which you can access by clicking the button below.