The Government is under increasing pressure to end the provision of ‘DIY’ home abortions as a medical doctor and research associate at the University of Oxford has described them as “every bit as horrifying” as warned.
COVID-19 emergency measures are set to end in England this week but there remains a question about whether the Government will also remove the temporary provision of ‘DIY’ at-home abortions. This provision was initially introduced at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 and is set to expire at the end of next month.
Earlier this month, the Government announced that ‘DIY’ abortion “was always intended to be a temporary measure”, but the evidence is still being reviewed.
“It was a devastating decision for the safety of the most vulnerable women”.
Dr Calum Miller, NHS doctor and research associate at the University of Oxford specialising in abortion policy, has said that “the government must prioritise women’s safety above the interests of abortion providers by shutting the lid on it once and for all”.
Dr Miller argues that since the introduction of ‘DIY’ abortions, which allows abortion to take place entirely outside of a clinical setting, “the evidence has only piled up more and more against it”.
He says that face-to-face consultations are a “critical safeguard against coerced abortion, life-threatening ruptured ectopic pregnancies and a litany of other possible risks”.
Dr Miller cites a published study that found “a quarter of abortions are coerced by men”, and says that the removal of the requirement for a face-to-face consultation was “brilliant news for abusers, traffickers and abortion providers”.
“What may have seemed convenient to abortion providers is the devastating loss of a lifeline for victims of abuse and trafficking who desperately need to speak to someone in private. Abortion clinics are one of the most frequently visited public sites for victims of sex trafficking. Sending these women — or their pimps — abortion pills in the mail only keeps this horrific practice in the shadows, away from detection. And it potentially subjects them to forced abortion, an appalling human rights abuse that often leaves life-long trauma”.
Risk of medical complications
Dr Miller also points out that the removal of an in-person examination and ultrasound can increase the likelihood of missed ectopic pregnancies which can be life-threatening. Data from Freedom of Information requests are “consistent with an increase in ruptured ectopic pregnancies since the telemedicine scheme began in March 2020”.
The removal of an in-person consultation also means that a baby “could be aborted at any gestation at home, putting the mother at risk of dangerous late-term abortions with no medical supervision”. A leaked NHS email noted “cases of infants being born at up to 30 weeks gestation, and a murder investigation for a baby who was born alive and subsequently died”.
Despite claims from supporters of ‘DIY’ abortion, “Freedom of Information data prove conclusively that complications from telemedicine abortion have been massively underreported”.
A study emerged last year that suggested that more than 10,000 women had to receive hospital treatment following the use of medical abortion pills in England between April 2020 and September 2021.
Based on data collected from 85 Freedom of Information requests to NHS Trusts across England, the study suggests that more than 1 in 17 women who had a medical abortion over the 18-month period needed hospital treatment.
Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “Dr Miller is absolutely right to call for an end to ‘DIY’ abortion. ‘DIY’ abortion represents the triumph of a strong pro-abortion ideology that is determined to increase the availability of abortion regardless of the terrible effects it has on women, both in terms of coercion and abuse, and the risk to health and life. All of these problems could be foreseen, and in practice, the danger posed to women has been shown to be even worse than imagined”.