The President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), Lesley Regan, has called for the Government to roll out ‘Facetime abortions’ across the United Kingdom.
In the RCOG’s Better for Women report, to be released on Monday 2 December, they have proposed that an abortion consultation happens without a face-to-face appointment, instead happening either over the phone or Facetime/Skype. The abortion pills (mifepristone and misoprostol) would then be picked up from a pharmacy.
Under the current law, two doctors must sign off on any termination request before handing over any abortion pills. The first abortion pill must be taken in an abortion clinic or hospital with medical supervision.
Both abortion pills would be taken by the women or teenage girl alone without the direct support of medical staff. Although campaigners are calling for the pills to be taken at home, once the drugs are taken from a pharmacy, there would nothing to stop misoprostol being taken at other locations such as schools, colleges etc, possibly under coercion from third-parties. It is not clear how the NHS or independent clinics could ensure the pills are taken by women or teenage girls at home.
The supply of abortion pills would also be much more difficult to control given they could be taken from a pharmacy, making it difficult to ensure that women and teenage girls who have been prescribed the pill are those who actually take the pill. This would make it easier for third parties to obtain abortion pills to slip them into a woman’s food without her knowledge.
Lesley Regan was previously heavily criticised for saying that she wanted to see getting an abortion as easy as getting ‘your bunions sorted’.
The psychological risks associated with medical abortions out of a clinical environment can be severe, partly because women usually see the fetus, which they then have to flush away themselves. It is not hidden from them in the way a surgical abortion keeps the fetus from the view of the woman. Moreover, the remainder of the abortion is always in the home, not in an anonymous clinic that can be left behind.
The RCOG decision to call for extreme changes to abortion provision was made by only 33 members of the RCOG Council and their full membership was not consulted. Following the decision, there was a revolt among the RCOG membership and 650 doctors wrote an open letter to Lesley Regan objecting to the change in position without any consultation with their 6,000 membership.
If the proposed changes went ahead, the UK’s two largest abortion providers would likely make far higher margins on each abortion they perform as they would no longer be required to provide a face to face appointment with a health professional and have two doctors certify an abortion.
A spokesperson for Right to Life UK Catherine Robinson said:
“Facetime abortions would leave teenage girls or other vulnerable women to take abortion pills and pass their unborn child alone at home, school or other locations without the direct support of medical staff and possibly under coercion from third-parties.
“Self-referral, self-administration and less medical involvement in abortions is not an improvement in health services for women. The absence of medical supervision for taking powerful drugs, often with great distress, is not an improvement in medical care.
“This is another attempt to trivialise the ending of a life, rush women and teenage girls through the abortion process, providing less medical supervision and support for women. 205,295 babies in the womb were aborted in England and Waled in 2018. This does not appear to be enough for the abortion lobby and head of the RCOG, Lesley Regan, who has said she wants to see abortion as easy as getting ‘your bunions sorted’. Instead, they are lobbying for these changes which would mean less medical supervision, less time for women and teenage girls to explore options other than abortion and could see our already very high abortion rate increase even further.
“Contrary to the recommended changes seeking to rush women through the abortion process, a ComRes poll found that 79% of the general public in the UK are in favour of introducing consideration periods to ensure that a woman considering an abortion has enough time to consider all of the options available to her.
“The RCOG should address the reasons women seek out abortion services in such high numbers in this country, often because of; vulnerability, isolation, lack of financial or emotional support, or pressure from a partner. Simply rushing women through the abortion process does nothing to address the problems these women already face and would only later compound these issues if coupled with post-abortion regret.
“The only people who would benefit from this change are the UK’s two big abortion providers. They would be able to make far higher margins on each abortion because they would no longer be required to provide a face to face appointment with a health professional and two doctors certifying an abortion.
“This is a reckless approach to healthcare. Women’s safety and mental or physical health should never be potentially compromised for the sake of expediency or convenience.”