Dangerous ‘DIY’ abortions introduced in the UK without any public consultation or parliamentary scrutiny

The Government has announced the biggest change to abortion provision since 1967, introducing telemedicine abortions where ‘DIY’ abortions will be performed at home by women on themselves without a doctor or other medical professional present. 

This is despite the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care saying “there are no proposals to change abortion rules” just last week.

Additionally, the Department of Health made it very clear that there were significant safety and safeguarding issues for women and young girls with the proposal. 

The very substantial temporary change has been made without any public consultation, parliamentary scrutiny or debate.

The approval will expire “on the day on which the temporary provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020 expire, or the end of the period of 2 years beginning with the day on which it is made, whichever is earlier.”

Previously abortions could only take place in hospitals or abortion clinics approved by the Secretary of State. However, under the new policy a single doctor will be able to prescribe abortion pills (mifepristone and misoprostol) over the phone or video (eg Facetime or Skype) and then women will perform their own abortion at home, by taking both abortion pills, meaning they will be left to pass their unborn child at home without direct medical supervision.

Just last week, the Government came out strongly against an abortion lobby attempt to introduce this change with the Department of Health highlighting the very significant safety and safeguarding risks with the proposal.

During the passing of the Coronavirus Bill Health Secretary Matt Hancock declared the Government had no plans to change any abortion laws in response to COVID-19.

Health Minister, Lord Bethell later added: “….we do not agree that women should be able to take both treatments for medical abortion at home. We believe that it is an essential safeguard that a woman attends a clinic, to ensure that she has an opportunity to be seen alone and to ensure that there are no issues.

Do we really want to support an amendment that could remove the only opportunity many women have, often at a most vulnerable stage, to speak confidentially and one-to-one with a doctor about their concerns on abortion and about what the alternatives might be? The bottom line is that, 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 have an abortion by an abusive partner.”

He also it clear that it would be inappropriate to make this change without parliamentary scrutiny: “It is not right to rush through this type of change in a sensitive area such as abortion without adequate parliamentary scrutiny.”

He added: “… where we have taken a huge amount of advice—we have worked with the scientific advice in the department —is in the fact that the changes being offered are a fundamental change to the way abortions are regulated and administered in this country. Those regulations and administration arrangements have been worked on for years and are subject to an enormous amount of consensus.” 

Abortion activists are now targeting Northern Ireland’s Department of Health in a bid to introduce ‘DIY’ abortions to the province. Despite abortion being a devolved matter in Northern Ireland, an extreme abortion law imposed on the province from the Conservative Government in Westminster will come into effect today. 

Spokesperson for Right to Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“We are calling on the Government to immediately revoke this dangerous decision to allow DIY abortions.

“This is incredibly opportunistic and tragic change pushed by the abortion lobby to take advantage of this crisis. This is the most significant policy change to the practice of Abortion since 1967 and it has happened entirely by the back-door – without any Parliamentary scrutiny or public consultation. For a Government who won the recent election on the premise of giving Parliament “back control”, undermining of Parliament’s role in our democracy can only be described as an attack on Parliamentary sovereignty: a key component of our democratic system 

“This places women at risk. The removal of any direct medical supervision overseeing the use of both abortion pills could see a rise of complications experienced by women, thus putting more strain on our NHS – having the opposite of the effect intended.

“Although the Government have indicated that the designated location for the abortion will be the home, there is nothing to stop both abortion pills being taken at other locations such as schools. It is not clear how the NHS or independent clinic could ensure the pills are taken at home, and with another adult present. Indeed, there would be no control over when, where or even who is taking the pills.

“There are also possible safety issues with under-16 girls and other vulnerable women taking abortion pills at home, school or other locations without the support of medical staff and possibly under coercion from third-parties.

“Furthermore, this proposal poses a threat to vulnerable girls who are at risk from sex-trafficking or child-sex abuse, as the ‘home’ abortion could be used by their abusers as a means to more easily cover up trafficking or abuse scandals.

“Today’s policy change by the Government goes against the very argument previously made by the abortion industry who argued that abortions should be provided at approved locations to protect women from abuse and coercion. By encouraging women to have abortions at home or other locations, the UK Government have put the health and safety of women at risk. 

“The UK Government must immediately repeal these changes to allow proper democratic procedures to be undertaken, but more importantly, to protect the health of thousands of women across the country.” 

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