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Peers speak out in favour of child safeguarding abortion amendment

Campaigners are dissappointed that an amendment to a Government Bill that would require under 18s to have an in-person consultation with a medical professional before having a medical abortion was not brought to a vote.

After both the House of Lords and the House of Commons approved an amendment to the Health and Care Bill that removed safeguards surrounding medical abortion before 10 weeks, Baroness Eaton attempted to reintroduce the safeguards of an in-person consultation with a qualified health professional for girls under 18 seeking an abortion. Nevertheless, at the end of her speech, she announced she would not bring the amendment to a vote.

As part of the Government’s pandemic response, ‘DIY’ home abortions, which  do not require women seeking an abortion to have an in-person appointment with a medical professional, were introduced on a temporary basis. However, under an amendment from Baroness Sugg, ‘DIY’ home abortions were made a permanent part of the law.

‘DIY’ abortion facilitates coercion and abuse

Critics of the change in the law were especially concerned with the increased risk of coerced abortion and medical complications that might not be detected as a result of never having a face-to-face consultation with a medical professional.

Both the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the National Network of Designated Healthcare Professionals for Safeguarding Children (NNDHP) have called specifically for face-to-face appointments for under 18s with a medical professional before having an abortion.

In the debate yesterday, Lord Alton quoted Dr Helen Daley of the NNDHP as saying: “The considered expert position of the NNDHP is that all children (i.e. those under 18) and looked after individuals under the age of 25, should be seen face-to-face when applying to take both sets of abortion pills at home so as to prevent coercion, child sexual exploitation and abuse, and so that clinical assessments can be made to check the risk of an inadvertent mid- or late-trimester abortion”.

Under 18s should have to see a doctor before an abortion

Baroness Eaton, who tabled the amendment, said that Baroness Sugg’s amendment left a “glaring gap” in terms of its lack of protection for “young and vulnerable females”. She said:

“It is not an amendment about the moral question of abortion. There would be no change to where the pills are taken or administered…”

“Surely, we in this House owe it to our young women and girls, our daughters and granddaughters, to do more to protect their safety and well-being. This is not an amendment nor a debate about abortion or a woman’s right to choose; it is about children’s welfare and enshrining in law the essential protections for girls under the age of 18”.

Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “In the name of promoting abortion at all costs, supporters of ‘DIY’ abortion are completely ignoring the wealth of evidence that shows how dangerous they are for children and the fact that they facilitate coerced abortion and abuse”.

“This dangerous scheme cannot be ended soon enough and it is a disgrace that it was ever permitted in the first instance”.

Dear reader,

You may be surprised to learn that our 24-week abortion time limit is out of line with the majority of European Union countries, where the most common time limit for abortion on demand or on broad social grounds is 12 weeks gestation.

The latest guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine enables doctors to intervene to save premature babies from 22 weeks. The latest research indicates that a significant number of babies born at 22 weeks gestation can survive outside the womb, and this number increases with proactive perinatal care.

This leaves a real contradiction in British law. In one room of a hospital, doctors could be working to save a baby born alive at 23 weeks whilst, in another room of that same hospital, a doctor could perform an abortion that would end the life of a baby at the same age.

The majority of the British population support reducing the time limit. Polling has shown that 70% of British women favour a reduction in the time limit from 24 weeks to 20 weeks or below.

Please click the button below to sign the petition to the Prime Minister, asking him to do everything in his power to reduce the abortion time limit.