A nationwide undercover investigation has found further evidence of abortion providers putting women at significant risk by not carrying out basic checks before sending them ‘DIY’ home abortion pills.
Shortly after lockdown began, the UK Government controversially brought in a policy allowing ‘DIY’ home abortions without public consultation or parliamentary scrutiny.
Prior to the change, women seeking a termination would have to visit a clinic for an assessment from a healthcare professional – something the Government had said was an “essential safeguard” before their incredible U-turn on the issue.
Now, an investigation, commissioned by the Christian Legal Centre, has uncovered that ‘DIY’ home abortion schemes are wide open to abuse and could lead to dangerous and illegal late-term abortions.
As part of the undercover investigation, eight volunteers went through the process of acquiring mifepristone and misoprostol – the pills needed to perform a ‘DIY’ home abortion.
However, in every case, pills were sent to the volunteers, despite using false names, dates of birth and gestational dates.
In one case, ‘DIY’ home abortion pills were provided to a volunteer who gave a date that could only have led to a termination beyond the legal 10-week limit stated in the regulations.
Research participant Anna gave a gestation date on the cusp of the 9 weeks and 6 days, which would have put her over the limit at the start of the process. During a second call she changed the date of her last menstrual period to remain within the 9 weeks and 6 days limit and this was accepted without any questions being asked.
According to the Christian Legal Centre, all eight volunteers were rushed through the process. The legal advocacy group revealed that: “On one call, staff can be heard talking over the woman to quickly conclude the conversation by sending out the abortion pills.”
Parliamentary pressure for ‘DIY’ home abortions
The shocking results of the undercover investigations come ahead of a potential parliamentary vote today seeking to make ‘DIY’ home abortions available on a permanent basis, for women who are in an abusive relationship.
The radical amendment is being tabled by Labour MP Diana Johnson, along with a further amendment that could leave England and Wales with the most extreme abortion law in Europe.
Contrary to BPAS’ claims, and the aims of the Domestic Abuse Bill, allowing ‘DIY’ home abortions on a permanent basis would likely result in a far greater number of women being coerced or forced into an unwanted termination.
By making both medical and surgical abortions legal outside of a hospital setting or place approved by the Secretary of State, and removing the requirement for an in-person consultation, it will be difficult for physicians and providers to ascertain if abuse or coercion is involved.
The extreme change could compromise the privacy of the patient and, in theory, could allow an abuser to hide in the background of an ‘electronic’ consultation.
According to an investigation conducted by the Independent last year, already “one in seven women in the UK have been bullied into either getting pregnant or having an abortion.” The amendment being tabled by Diana Johnson does nothing to address this coercion and will likely make the situation much worse.
Earlier this year, a pharmacist and self-styled pastor, who sexually abused children, covered up his crimes on some of his vulnerable victims by obtaining medical abortion pills through his role as a pharmacist.
Additionally, Dr Gregory Gardner, a longstanding GP and honorary clinical lecturer at the University of Birmingham, has revealed how the radical proposed changes in law could open more children and women up to abuse and coerced abortion.
In an expert witness statement for a UK Court of Appeal legal challenge against ‘DIY’ home abortions, the leading doctor said: “It will be difficult if not impossible to verify by phone or video whether a woman is undergoing any kind of duress to have an abortion.
“There does not seem to have been any consideration given to this in the proposed change in policy. There will be women who need delicate counselling to discover coercion or other forms of abuse.”
Furthermore, by removing the 10-week limit, late-term abortions, similar to the one that caused the death of an unborn baby at 28 weeks in May, will likely become more commonplace.
In addition, it was revealed a further eight cases were being investigated of women taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills beyond the current 10-week limit.
A number of 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”.
Pressure in Parliament for permanent home abortions
Last week, the UK Court of Appeal announced it would hear the Christian Legal Centre’s challenge against the UK Government’s decision to introduce ‘DIY’ home abortions.
Lord Justice Lewison ruled it is “arguable” that the Health Secretary Matt Hancock exceeded his powers under the 1967 Abortion Act when he designated “a pregnant woman’s home” as a permissible place for abortion.
In granting permission for the judicial review, Lord Justice Lewison said that Christian Concern’s argument “has a real prospect of success”, and the Court of Appeal will now hold a public hearing imminently to decide whether Mr Hancock’s decision should be invalidated.
Catastrophic consequences for vulnerable pregnant women
Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said: “This undercover operation has exposed the dangers to vulnerable women as a result of the change in the law. This unsafe, and frequently illegal service, is provided by an abortion industry which wields huge influence at the heart of UK government.
“Pre-action disclosure in our court case reveals the hot line abortion executives have to senior civil servants at the heart of the health and social care department. This has to be investigated and overhauled.
“If Diana Johnson’s amendments go forward on Monday there will be a parliamentary debate on whether to introduce to the UK some of the most extreme abortion laws in the world .
“It would be an abuse of the Domestic Abuse Bill to hijack it in order to decriminalise abortion at any time for any reason up to 28 weeks.
“How can a civilised parliament even contemplate such a move when we know that babies born at less than 28 weeks have a strong chance of survival.
“The revelations of how these DIY abortion services are run and the lack of due process should cause MPs to think again and to reject these dangerous amendments.
“If the amendments go through they will have catastrophic consequences for vulnerable pregnant women and for our unborn children. Abortion figures are already at record levels and we should be working toward public policies which bring down abortion numbers not increase them.
“The abortion providers are shamelessly pushing these amendments in Parliament while ignoring the safety of women who ask for their services.
“The issue of abortion is coming to a head. This public health, mystery client exercise, conducted and regulated to the highest professional standards, has exposed the chilling disregard for proper process at the heart of the abortion industry.”
‘DIY’ home abortions must be ‘urgently withdrawn’
Kevin Duffy, a former Global Director of Clinics Development at Marie Stopes International, who led the undercover investigation, said: “The investigation clearly demonstrates that abortion at home by pills-by-post, is not safe, and on many occasions it oversteps legal boundaries without any proper scrutiny.
“Each of the scenarios revealed by this investigation would not have happened under the pre-lockdown process. Previously as part of the routine care, the woman would first be examined and assessed in a clinic by a professional service provider before being consented for an abortion, which could have resulted in her being able to safely self-administer both tablets at home.
“Women can self-refer for abortion services and do not need to be referred by their GP. Telemedicine means it is much harder to correctly identify the woman and what her gestational stage is. Service providers using the telemedicine process are solely reliant upon the accurate and honest self-assessment by the woman of the gestational age of her pregnancy, her self-reporting of the first day of her last period has replaced the routine examination by a service provider in a clinic.
“It is deeply concerning that the abortion industry has been allowed to take this service this far during an already highly vulnerable time for pregnant women. The process of wholly relying on telemedicine must be withdrawn urgently.”