Leading Scottish doctor outlines serious issues with ‘DIY’ home abortions

A leading Scottish doctor has voiced opposition to the proposed extension of ‘DIY’ home abortions in Scotland.

Since the coronavirus lockdown, women in Scotland and across England and Wales have been able to take both pills required in a medical abortion at home.

Despite serious and mounting safety concerns, the Scottish Government launched a public consultation on whether ‘DIY’ home abortions should continue once there is no longer a significant risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Coercion

Dr Antony Latham, chairman of the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, is strongly opposed.

The Isle of Harris GP spoke to the Daily Record about the multiple dangers which could affect women if ‘DIY’ home abortions are allowed on a permanent basis.

Chief among the doctor’s concerns was the possibility of women being coerced into an unwanted abortion. “One danger is that the woman is under pressure to have an abortion in an abusive relationship or from relatives who will not support her,” he said.

Dr Latham is also concerned women may be unaware of the risks involved.

“Significant bleeding and sepsis are not uncommon,” he says. “Another danger is she may not fully understand the trauma of having an abortion, potentially all alone, at home.”

Late-term abortions at home

And he has further fears that without any examination women may be getting the abortion pills for a pregnancy that is beyond the legal limit for such DIY abortions.

“There is already a report of a case where a woman at 28 weeks’ gestation took the pills and delivered a baby which subsequently died.”

He continued: “Deciding to have or not to have an abortion is such an important moment in a woman’s life. Any decision about this must be done only after unrushed face-to-face counselling…

Anyone who examines the facts will want to ensure proper face to face counselling to support any woman who is making such a huge and life-changing decision.”

Concerns amplified by real life cases

Sadly, Dr Latham’s concerns have been amplified by real life cases of women who have suffered complications and traumatic experiences after taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills.

This week, a nurse revealed that she was left fearing for her life and needing emergency surgery after taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills.

The woman is now considering legal action against Marie Stopes UK, who supplied her with the abortion pills, for clinical negligence after they failed to provide requested counselling and “rushed” her through the abortion process.

A number of other 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”.

‘Rigged consultation’

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said: “The consultation is extremely one-sided. 

“Why is there no mention in the consultation background evidence that two women have died using these ‘DIY’ home abortion services? Surely that was relevant? Was it not relevant that police are investigating the death of an unborn baby after its mother took ‘DIY’ home abortion pills while 28 weeks’ pregnant or that one abortion provider was investigating a further thirteen ongoing investigations?

“The Scottish Government appears to have repeatedly ‘cherry-picked’ anything that supports making ‘DIY’ home abortions permanent and ignored evidence highlighting serious issues with the schemes.

“For example, in the background evidence to the consultation, the Scottish Government makes the claim that ‘Statistics have been published for January to June 2020 for England and Wales, which do show the Covid-19 arrangements have led to more women having their abortions at earlier gestations…’.” 

“While there has been an increase in the percentage of abortions prior to 10-weeks in 2020 compared to 2019, this appears to be part of a long term trend towards a higher percentage of abortions happening prior to 10 weeks, with year-on-year percentage increases happening each year for a number of years. The Scottish Government has chosen to not include this important context in the background evidence and then gone further by making the claim that ‘DIY’ home abortions have ‘led to more women having their abortion at earlier gestations’.

“The cherry-picking of evidence or views that only support introducing ‘DIY’ abortions is then repeated throughout the background evidence.

“This is clearly a rigged consultation which is seeking to make dangerous ‘DIY’ home abortion permanent in Scotland.

“We are calling on constituents in Scotland to make it clear to their MSPs that these dangerous ‘DIY’ home abortion schemes should be suspended immediately and not introduced on a permanent basis.”

Right To Life UK has launched an online tool allowing Scottish residents to contact their local MSPs and call for an immediate end to ‘DIY’ home abortions following the deaths of two women.

Nurse considering legal action after ‘DIY’ abortion left her needing life-changing surgery

A nurse, who feared for her life and needed emergency surgery after taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills, is considering legal action against Marie Stopes UK.

‘Sophie’ – a pseudonym – discovered she was pregnant in July, but found herself alone and with nowhere to turn following the breakdown of her relationship with the father of the baby.

Having never been pregnant before, Sophie contacted Marie Stopes seeking help, unsure whether or not she wanted to proceed with her pregnancy.

However, during her interactions with the international abortion giant, the professional nurse said she was denied proper counselling and was rushed through the abortion process.

Recalling her experience at the abortion facility, Sophie said: “There was no ‘hello’ or anything, I was told to just sit on the couch. I was asked if I was sure about what I was doing. I said I was 90% sure, but that I was really confused.

“They must have seen how upset I was and that I was in no position to make a decision about anything. I wasn’t with it at all, she must have looked at me and been able to tell I wasn’t ok.”

‘Excruciating pain’

Despite Sophie’s state of mind, a Marie Stopes representative told her that, as she was five weeks and two days pregnant, she could take ‘DIY’ abortion pills at home.

A concerned Sophie told the abortion clinic worker that she didn’t want to take the pills at home as she would be on her own.

In her attempts to reassure Sophie, the Marie Stopes representative said that the discomfort from taking the pills would be “just like bad period cramps” and that pain relief could be obtained from a pharmacy.

However, Sophie experienced “excruciating pain”. 

She revealed: “When I took the second pill at home, I began to experience the most excruciating pain. It continued to escalate that evening to the extent I thought I was going to die.

“I was desperate for more pain relief. Fortunately, my friend prevented me from taking too much.”

‘I still felt pregnant’

The following afternoon, Sophie began to experience significant bleeding that lasted for ten days. 

“My body was still changing, I still felt pregnant. By this point I was in serious distress and didn’t understand what was happening,” she said.

Desperate and anxious to know why she still felt pregnant, Sophie attended a hospital and had an internal scan.

She was told she still had ‘products of conception’ inside of her that had a blood supply and ‘looked like a sack’.

She was then given the options of taking more abortion pills or having emergency surgery.

Now recovering after surgery, Sophie is receiving support from the Pregnancy Crisis Helpline, which supports women who are going through or have experienced crisis pregnancies.

She is now keen to start a support group connecting women who have had similar experiences. 

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Sophie is also considering legal action against Marie Stopes for medical negligence.

Revealing the lack of care shown to her by Marie Stopes during her ordeal, Sophie said: “I had no follow-up from Marie Stopes. When I repeatedly called, I was told that they did not have any counsellors available and that I could not get an appointment.”

She added: “Marie Stopes knew I had this complication and was suffering, yet no one called me, no one checked to see what was going on. I cannot imagine what would have happened if I had been completely alone. The counselling was not available when I needed it most.

“There must be proper assessments for women in crisis pregnancies rather than being rushed through such a traumatic process.

“Every day since, I have asked myself: ‘why did I do it?’ I was in shock. It was totally wrong for me.”

‘Immense courage’

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Sophie has shown immense courage to tell her story after what she has been through.

“Those running abortion services in England have elevated ideology over women’s safety, and we are seeing the tragic consequences of that.

“We are concerned about how many more of the tens of thousands of women who have accessed this service have had similar traumatic experiences.

“These pills are highly dangerous drugs which should not be handed out at a clinic or posted to women to take at home without proper medical supervision.

“Tragically, vulnerable pregnant women who have used the telemedicine service during UK lockdown to avoid coronavirus have died or experienced serious life-changing complications.

“The DIY abortion service is a dangerous lottery. We call on the Care Quality Commission to urgently analyse its data in order to fully understand and investigate how many more women across the UK have been damaged by this service since it was introduced by the government on 30 March.”

Problems mount for ‘DIY’ home abortions

Sadly, Sophie is not alone in her ordeal. A number of women have 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”.

Similar to Sophie, it was revealed yesterday that another woman has had an abortion after being denied face-to-face counselling.

Nikita Jain Jones was unsure whether or not to proceed with her pregnancy and sought counselling from the UK’s largest abortion provider before making a final decision, which boasts that it can offer same-day abortions in its ‘considering abortion’ booklet.

Unable to access the help she needed before the 24th week of pregnancy – the latest a woman can legally terminate a pregnancy involving a non-disabled unborn baby – Nikita had an abortion.

‘DIY’ home abortion challenge

Medical abortions involve taking two tablets. The first, mifepristone, is designed to prevent the development of the unborn baby, while the second set of pills, misoprostol, induces a miscarriage.

Despite assurances there would be “no change” to abortion regulations, and that in-person consultations remain “an essential safeguard” for women, the Department for Health and Social Care announced on 30 March that it would allow pregnant women in England to take both sets of pills involved in a medical abortion at home.

Just one day later, the devolved governments in Holyrood and the Welsh Assembly introduced ‘telemedicine’ abortions in Scotland and Wales. 

The governments in England, Scotland and Wales made the very substantial legislative changes without any public consultation, parliamentary scrutiny or debate.  

The Christian Legal Centre is challenging the changes to the Supreme Court.

It comes as serious problems and safety abuses continue to come to light following the introduction of ‘DIY’ home abortions.

In addition to personal stories, a leaked “urgent email” sent by a regional chief midwife at NHS England and NHS Improvement on the “escalating risks” of ‘DIY’ home abortions police have opened a murder investigation into the death of a baby who they believe was born alive despite her mother taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills. 

A nationwide undercover investigation found evidence of abortion providers putting women at significant risk by not carrying out basic checks before sending them ‘DIY’ home abortion pills.

The study also discovered ‘DIY’ home abortion pills can easily be obtained and administered to others, potentially in a coercive manner.

In May, it was revealed UK police were investigating the death of an unborn baby after its mother took ‘DIY’ home abortion pills while 28 weeks’ pregnant.

In addition, abortion provider BPAS said they were investigating a further eight cases of women taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills beyond the 10-week limit, raising questions over what checks are being conducted to ensure the law isn’t being broken and dangerous late-term abortions aren’t happening.

BPAS and Marie Stopes quick to provide abortion, but not support

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said: “What this shows, yet again, is that the so-called ‘pro-choice’ lobby is really just pro-abortion.

“Tragically, in the space of two days, two stories have come to light about women who have had an abortion because they were denied counselling. The lives of two babies have been lost because their distressed mothers found it significantly easier to secure an abortion than counselling.

“BPAS boasts that it can offer same-day abortions in its considering abortion’ booklet, yet denies women real choice, the face-to-face counselling and the support which may help them keep their babies.

“BPAS, Marie Stopes and the rest of the abortion lobby appear to have no interest in providing real practical support for women seeking counselling or in crisis pregnancies. It appears these are services are likely seen as a legal inconvenience for them when they just want to focus on abortions along with expanding the conditions in which they can perform them.”

Women at risk from ‘DIY’ home abortions, Northern Ireland Department of Health confirms

Women who take ‘DIY’ home abortion drugs are putting themselves at risk, the Northern Ireland Department of Health has declared.

The warning came in response to an online workshop instructing women on “self-managed abortion” by pro-abortion group Alliance for Choice.

When asked about the workshop, the Department of Health told News Letter: “Women are at risk if they access unregulated abortion services.”

“The Department’s view is that services should be properly delivered through direct medical supervision within the health and social care system.”

Push for ‘DIY’ home abortions in Northern Ireland

Alliance for Choice and abortion providers, including BPAS and Marie Stopes International, are putting Northern Ireland political figures under pressure to allow ‘DIY’ home abortions across the province.

The push for a change in law comes after the governments in England, Scotland and Wales amended legislation to allow at-home medical abortions to take place across Great Britain in response to the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year.

Despite assurances there would be “no change” to abortion regulations, and that in-person consultations remain “an essential safeguard” for women, the Department for Health and Social Care announced on 30 March that it would allow pregnant women in England to take both sets of pills involved in a medical abortion at home.

Just one day later, the devolved governments in Holyrood and the Welsh Assembly introduced ‘telemedicine’ abortions in Scotland and Wales. 

The governments in England, Scotland and Wales made the very substantial legislative changes without any public consultation, parliamentary scrutiny or debate.  

Tragically, the change in legislation has been linked to the potential murder of a baby unexpectedly born alive, among other serious safety concerns.

Tragic consequences

Medical abortions involve taking two tablets. The first, mifepristone, is designed to prevent the development of the unborn baby, while the second set of pills, misoprostol, induces a miscarriage.

Prior to the change in legislation, pregnant women could only take mifepristone in hospitals or abortion clinics approved by the Secretary of State and under the supervision of a doctor.

However, under the new policy, a single doctor can prescribe abortion pills following an online or phone consultation with a doctor, leaving women to pass their unborn child at home without direct medical supervision.

When the UK and Scottish Government’s introduced ‘DIY’ home abortions, they led the general public to believe the measure would be temporary, with both stating the change in legislation would last up to two years or until the COVID-19 pandemic is over, whichever comes first.

However, the ‘temporary’ legislative changes could now become permanent.

The UK Government has revealed it will open a public consultation on making the change permanent in England, while the devolved Government in Scotland has already launched an online consultation in Scotland.

Commissioning abortion services will require public consultation

Northern Ireland Health Minister, Robin Swann, told Irish News they have “publicly stated” that its legal advice says while the department is “not required to commission the relevant services”, the law now allows registered medical professionals to carry out abortions.

He added: “The regulations require such terminations to be carried out on Health and Social Care premises. This advice was communicated to Trusts in April.

“Decisions remain to be taken on the commissioning of abortion services in NI’s health service. Commissioning is a significant process that will require a public consultation. It will clearly be [a] matter for the Executive and Assembly as well as the Department.”

‘Inherently dangerous’

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said: “Ever since the UK Government permitted ‘DIY’ home abortions, stories of illegal late-term abortions and safety abuses have come to light.

“These thirteen ongoing investigations are likely only the tip of the iceberg, given the date of the leaked email.

“Abortion providers, such as BPAS and Marie Stopes International, who want to keep ‘DIY’ home abortions on a permanent basis, are unlikely to want to reveal how many complications or serious incidents have arisen as a result of their ‘services’.

“There are also likely many more incidents that abortion providers don’t know about as the majority of women are likely to not come back and tell an abortion provider that they have broken the law using their service or weren’t even aware how far along they were, given they have not had an ultrasound.

“These ‘DIY’ home abortion schemes, which are inherently dangerous and show no concern for babies or vulnerable pregnant women, should be suspended immediately and not introduced on a permanent basis.”

Scottish Govt launch ‘rigged’ consultation on whether to make ‘DIY’ abortions permanent

The Scottish Government has launched a public consultation on whether the temporary measure allowing ‘DIY’ home abortions should be made permanent.

It comes just weeks after the Scottish Government revealed its intention to expand access to abortion across the nation, despite Scotland’s most recent abortion figures being the second-highest on record.

Speaking in Holyrood earlier this month, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined her party’s intention to expand access to abortion as a “priority action” over the next 12 months.

Now, the Scottish Government is asking the public whether ‘DIY’ home abortions should continue once there is no longer a significant risk of COVID-19 transmission, despite significant and mounting safety concerns.

In the biggest change to abortion law since 1967, the UK Government announced on 30 March it would temporarily allow ‘DIY’ home abortions for the next two years or until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Just one day later, on 31 March, Scottish Ministers also approved ‘DIY’ home abortions. Scotland’s former Chief Medical Officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, wrote to NHS boards to encourage them to implement the change “as soon as possible”.

Both the Governments in Westminster and in Holyrood announced the very substantial change without any public consultation, parliamentary scrutiny or debate. 

While the Scottish Government has now launched a public consultation on ‘DIY’ home abortions, it has been criticised for being one-sided.

‘Rigged consultation’

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said: “The consultation is extremely one-sided. 

“Why is there no mention in the consultation background evidence that two women have died using these ‘DIY’ home abortion services? Surely that was relevant? Was it not relevant that police are investigating the death of an unborn baby after its mother took ‘DIY’ home abortion pills while 28 weeks’ pregnant or that one abortion provider was investigating a further thirteen ongoing investigations?

“The Scottish Government appears to have repeatedly ‘cherry-picked’ anything that supports making ‘DIY’ home abortions permanent and ignored evidence highlighting serious issues with the schemes.

“For example, in the background evidence to the consultation, the Scottish Government makes the claim that ‘Statistics have been published for January to June 2020 for England and Wales, which do show the Covid-19 arrangements have led to more women having their abortions at earlier gestations…’.” 

“While there has been an increase in the percentage of abortions prior to 10-weeks in 2020 compared to 2019, this appears to be part of a long term trend towards a higher percentage of abortions happening prior to 10 weeks, with year-on-year percentage increases happening each year for a number of years. The Scottish Government has chosen to not include this important context in the background evidence and then gone further by making the claim that ‘DIY’ home abortions have ‘led to more women having their abortion at earlier gestations’.

“The cherry-picking of evidence or views that only support introducing ‘DIY’ abortions is then repeated throughout the background evidence.

“This is clearly a rigged consultation which is seeking to make dangerous ‘DIY’ home abortion permanent in Scotland.

“We are calling on constituents in Scotland to make it clear to their MSPs that these dangerous ‘DIY’ home abortion schemes should be suspended immediately and not introduced on a permanent basis.”

Right To Life UK has launched an online tool allowing Scottish residents to contact their local MSPs and call for an immediate end to ‘DIY’ home abortions following the deaths of two women.

Significant problems

Since ‘DIY’ home abortions were introduced, a number of significant problems have arisen.

According to a leaked “urgent email” sent by a regional chief midwife at NHS England and NHS Improvement on the “escalating risks” of ‘DIY’ home abortions, two women have died after taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills.

The email leak also revealed police have opened a murder investigation into the death of a baby who they believe was born alive despite her mother taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills. 

A nationwide undercover investigation found evidence of abortion providers putting women at significant risk by not carrying out basic checks before sending them ‘DIY’ home abortion pills.

The study also discovered ‘DIY’ home abortion pills can easily be obtained and administered to others, potentially in a coercive manner.

In May, it was revealed UK police were investigating the death of an unborn baby after its mother took ‘DIY’ home abortion pills while 28 weeks’ pregnant.

In addition, abortion provider BPAS said they were investigating a further eight cases of women taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills beyond the 10-week limit, raising questions over what checks are being conducted to ensure the law isn’t being broken and dangerous late-term abortions aren’t happening. 

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”.

What is a public consultation?

A public consultation is a process used by the Government, and other public bodies, which invites the public to provide their views and feedback on a particular proposal.

In the majority of consultations, responses can be submitted by both individuals and organisations.

Consultations last for a proportionate amount of time and consist of a limited number of clear, concise questions.

A consultation should help scrutinise a proposal and give an indicator of its public approval.