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Prominent peer speaks out against ‘dangerous’ DIY home abortion scheme

A prominent member of the House of Lords has called on the Government to stop the provision of ‘DIY’ home abortions, which she says have “proven to be so dangerous”.

In a recent article, Baroness Philippa Stroud criticised the Government for introducing a dangerous and harmful ‘DIY’ home abortion concession as part of efforts to ‘Protect the NHS’ during the COVID-19 pandemic. She said that the decision to allow ‘pills-by-post’ or ‘at home’ abortion represents “the largest change to abortion law since 1967 and was done without any parliamentary scrutiny or public consultation”.

“The measures allow consultations with a single doctor or nurse over the phone, after which both sets of abortion pills (one mifepristone/six misoprostol) are sent to the patient’s home for a woman to effectively perform a DIY abortion, up until 10 weeks gestation”.

In March, just a week after the beginning of lockdown, Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock confirmed that there were no plans to change the abortion law as part of the COVID-19 response. However, as Baroness Stroud points out, these reassurances were quickly forgotten as the Government U-turned to allow ‘DIY’ home abortion throughout the pandemic, despite the Health Minister Lord Bethell admitting in the House of Lords that “it is not right to rush through this type of change in a sensitive area such as abortion without adequate parliamentary scrutiny.”

Unintended consequences

“It is difficult to quantify the number of complications that have arisen from these pills, such as incomplete abortion and continued bleeding, due to insufficient data collection of patients receiving the pills, but Freedom of Information (FOI) requests have revealed the aftermath from the pills-by-post process to include sepsis, hemorrhaging, embolisms, renal failure and trauma to pelvic organs, among other medical complications”, she said.

The limit for ‘DIY’ home abortion is supposed to be 10 weeks gestation. As the abortion provider BPAS states, one week’s difference, from less than 9 weeks gestation to a 9-10 week gestational age more than doubles the risk of an incomplete abortion from 3% to 7%.

Baroness Stroud highlighted that “there are at least 52 cases officially reported to the Department of Health and Social Care of women who were provided pills-by-post beyond 10 weeks gestation, including one case where the unborn child was at 28 weeks gestation (beyond the legal limit)”.

A leaked email from a Regional Chief Midwife at NHS England and NHS Improvement concerning the “escalating risks” around ‘DIY’ home abortion revealed that one woman was able to receive abortion pills at 32 weeks pregnant and mentions “3 police investigations […] linked to these incidents”, one of which is a murder investigation “as there is a concern that the baby was live born” after a woman used the ‘DIY’ home abortion service.

“Threat to vulnerable women and girls”

Alongside the medical complications of ‘DIY’ home abortion, the Baroness decried the potential for abuse and coercion, which becomes difficult to detect without in-person consultation.

She noted: “This poses a threat to vulnerable women and girls who are at risk from an abusive partner, 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”.

“Proven to be so dangerous”

Despite Government guidance encouraging people to attend medical appointments in person during lockdown, such access to physical healthcare has not been applied to ‘DIY’ home abortion, thereby leaving vulnerable women and girls to fend for themselves in their own homes.

As Baroness Stroud powerfully concludes, “it is crucial that the Government reverses these damaging concessions that were made at the beginning of the pandemic that have proven to be so dangerous, and restores protections for women during these unprecedented times, and reverses the concessions for at-home abortions”.

Right To Life UK’s spokesperson, Catherine Robinson said:

“The pre-COVID abortion law in England and Wales, although certainly a very bad and dangerous law, did at least provide some minimal protections against forced abortions and ensured at least a minimum of post-abortion care. Once abortion pills are sent in the post, no one can be certain who takes them and at what stage of pregnancy. The potential for complications and abuse is extensive especially considering that thousands of  women have procured an abortion via this method”.

“Baroness Stroud is absolutely right to call on the Government to rescind this appalling law, which was introduced with no parliamentary scrutiny and next to no discussion. The concern that abortion access be expanded at all costs is once again on clear display. The abortion providers distributing this pill and knowing the many risks involved are showing how little they actually care for women, let alone their unborn children”.

Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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Dear reader

In 2020, the UK Government imposed an extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland, which included a provision that legalised abortion right up to birth for disabilties including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot.

A new Bill has been launched at the Northern Ireland assembly that will remove the current provision that allows abortion for ‘severe fetal impairment’.

It is under these grounds in the regulations that babies with disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot can currently be singled out for abortion in Northern Ireland because of their disability and can be aborted right up to birth.

Before the new abortion regime was imposed on Northern Ireland in 2020, disability-selective abortion for conditions such as Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot was not legal and there was a culture of welcoming and supporting people with these disabilities rather than eliminating them.

This is reflected directly in the latest figures (2016) from the Department of Health in Northern Ireland, which show that while there were 52 children born with Down’s syndrome in Northern Ireland, in the same year only 1 child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales. 

This contrasts with the situation in the rest of the United Kingdom where disability-selective abortion has been legal since 1967.

The latest available figures show that 90% of children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome before birth are aborted in England and Wales.

We are, therefore, asking people like you to take 30 seconds of your time and add your support to the campaign to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot in Northern Ireland.

If you live in Northern Ireland: 
Ask your MLAs to vote to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot:

If you live outside Northern Ireland: 
Show your support by signing this petition in support of the Bill:

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Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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