UK’s largest abortion provider hails highest abortion numbers in history as ‘one of the few healthcare success stories of this pandemic’

The UK’s largest abortion provider, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), has declared the significant rise in the number of abortions performed so far in 2020 as “one of the few healthcare success stories of this pandemic”.

Statistics released by The Department of Health and Social Care last week revealed that 109,836 abortions were performed for English and Welsh residents in the six months between 1 January and 30 June 2020.

This is an increase of 4,296 from the same time period in 2019, when 105,540 terminations were performed.

Over the full calendar year, abortion numbers for 2019 were the highest ever recorded in England and Wales at 200,608.

In their press release on the all-time high numbers, BPAS said: “These figures illustrate that access to abortion care has been one of the few healthcare success stories of this pandemic.”

BPAS call for ‘DIY’ home abortions to be permanent

The significant rise in abortions coincides with the Government’s temporary measure allowing ‘DIY’ home abortions in the UK, earlier this year.

BPAS has now called for them to be made available on a permanent basis claiming they have become “the standard of high quality, woman-centred care in countries around the world”.

However, contrary to the claims of BPAS, significant problems and safety abuses have arisen around the introduction of ‘DIY’ home abortions in the UK.

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.

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”.

Despite these concerns, BPAS may get their wish as the UK Government recently announced it will launch a consultation on whether to end the temporary measure allowing ‘DIY’ home abortions or make it permanent.

‘National tragedy’

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said: “The rise in abortion numbers are not a ‘success story’ or cause for celebration.

“They are a national tragedy.

“Every one of the 109,836 abortions which took place represents a failure of our society to protect the lives of babies in the womb and a failure to offer full support to women with unplanned pregnancies. 

“This year we’ve come together as a nation and made great sacrifices to protect the vulnerable from Covid-19. Sadly, at the very same time we  protected one group of vulnerable people, we as a society have also ended thousands of young vulnerable lives through abortion.

“This significant rise in abortions coincides with the temporary measures allowing ‘DIY’ home abortions in the UK. Since the UK Government permitted ‘DIY’ home abortions, stories of illegal late-term abortions and safety abuses have come to light.

“We, along with other pro-life campaigners, warned it was only a matter of time before a woman died as a result of a ‘DIY’ home abortion. Tragically, that has been the case with two women having their lives ended, along with the tens of thousands of babies losing their lives, under the Government’s home abortion scheme.

“These cases and the 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 not likely to 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 should be suspended immediately.”

Large turnout of MPs and Peers hear about dangers of assisted suicide

A large number of MPs and Peers attended a parliamentary event, this week, on the dangers of assisted suicide and the grim reality its legalisation would bring to the UK.

Politicians from across the political spectrum heard speeches from internationally renowned Dutch ethicist Prof. Theo Boer and Mr Wesley Smith, who has been recognised as “one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics” by the National Journal.

The event, which took place on World Suicide Prevention Day (Thursday 10 September), was hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group and chaired by Fiona Bruce MP.

Ahead of main speeches, the pro-life Conservative MP said: “at this particular time of global pandemic it’s all the more critical that we reassure people that every life is intrinsically valuable.”

‘Default way to die’

In his speech, Dutch ethicist Professor Theo Boer explained how he has experienced the expansion of assisted dying in the Netherlands since it was introduced in 2002.

Prof. Boer was a former advocate of legal euthanasia but changed his mind after seeing its continued expansion both in the Netherlands and other countries and the negative consequences of it.

He revealed that for many people he has witnessed assisted dying become “a default way to die”.

Fear-mongering

Mr Smith said that activists and pressure groups often use fear, in particular fear-mongering on the difficulties of death, to push through their agenda.

He added that people “very rarely” commit assisted suicide because of pain, but do so for existential reasons. These reasons may include being worried about losing their dignity and a fear of being a burden to their families and loved ones.

“I can’t think of anything more cruel than letting somebody who’s having a terrible awful time getting through the night because of existential anguish feel that their deaths have a greater value than their lives,” Mr Smith said.

He added that assisted suicide violates human rights by creating a two-tier system of valuing lives which says to some people ‘Yes your suicide is worth preventing’, but says to others ‘yours isn’t’.

Suicide crisis exacerbated

Both Prof. Boer and Mr Smith believe that the “suicide crisis” in the West is “exacerbated” by allowing assisted dying, despite claims to the contrary from activists and pressure groups.

Prof. Boer highlighted how the number of suicides in the Netherlands has risen by 35% over the past decade, coinciding with a 150% rise in the number of people seeking assisted dying, while the rate has decreased in neighbouring countries which don’t allow assisted dying.

He stated that in Germany, where euthanasia is not possible, the suicide rate has decreased over the past ten years.

Prof. Boer added: “the signal that is being sent to a society is that death is the solution to any form of unbearable and irremediable suffering”.

He further indicated that assisted dying tends to develop from being a last resort to prevent a terrible death into being a last resort to prevent a terrible life.

No medical, legal or political support for assisted suicide

Large pressure groups in favour of assisted suicide and activists have been attempting to force assisted suicide on the UK through the courts, medical bodies and parliament.

However, despite their best efforts, they continue to face obstacles and their efforts have so far been futile.

Not a single doctors group or major disability rights organisation in the UK supports changing the law, including the British Medical Association (BMA), the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Physicians, the British Geriatric Society and the Association for Palliative Medicine.

Last year, the High Court rejected to hold a judicial review of the current law on assisted suicide, with judges stating the court was “not an appropriate forum for the discussion of the sanctity of life”. The Court of Appeal rejected an attempt to challenge this decision last month.

Similarly, in 2018, the Court of Appeal ruled that Parliament was a “better forum” than the courts for determining the issue of legalising assisted suicide.

Parliament has consistently rejected attempts by the assisted suicide lobby to introduce assisted suicide, with MPs voting 330 to 118 against introducing assisted suicide in 2015. 

In January, strong opposition from MPs resulted in the Government rejecting a call for review on assisted suicide, despite the best efforts from large pressure groups in favour of assisted suicide.

The Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland QC, has reaffirmed this stance on two occasions this year.  

In February, Mr Buckland QC, stated the Government has “no plans” to introduce assisted suicide legislation.

In a letter to Dr Gordon Macdonald, the CEO of anti-euthanasia group Care Not Killing, Mr Buckland said: “Personally, I have grave doubts about the ability of legislation to be watertight when it comes to the potential for abuse.”

He added: “My predecessor was… supportive of a call for evidence but no call was initiated before he left office, nor… does the Government currently have any plans to initiate a call for evidence. This remains my position.”

Mr Buckland QC reaffirmed the Government’s stance in April, during a remote meeting of the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

Prime Minister changes stance on assisted suicide

The current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, previously supported introducing assisted suicide to the UK.

However, he apparently had a change of heart after meeting with Lord Falconer, who has twice failed in bringing forward a Bill to introduce assisted suicide to the UK.

During the meeting with Falconer, it became clear to Johnson that supposed safeguards around assisted suicide simply weren’t effective in practice. 

Ironically, he left the meeting, which had been set-up to get him more involved with campaigning for assisted suicide, more aware of the practical issues with allowing assisted suicide.

He then went on to to vote against an assisted suicide bill brought forward by Labour MP Rob Marris in 2015. 

This was a landslide victory for campaigners opposed to the Bill, with 330 MPs voting against the Bill and only 118 in support. 

Ahead of voting against the Bill, Boris Johnson said: “The Bill may seem compassionate but I have serious concerns about it working in practice. I cannot support it.”

In line with his new views, Boris Johnson unveiled an additional £25 million funding for hospices in a bid to ease end-of-life care last year. 

Deeply flawed polling

Assisted suicide pressure groups cite a poll that shows there is widespread support for legislation of assisted suicide, yet experts have heavily criticised the polling as deeply flawed.

Additionally, when asked questions that drill down into the merits of the debate, the percentage of those in support drops dramatically.

UK Government face legal challenge over ‘DIY’ home abortions at Court of Appeal

The UK Government’s decision to introduce ‘DIY’ home abortions amid the coronavirus pandemic will be challenged at the Court of Appeal today.

Despite assurances from the Government that there would be “no change” to abortion regulations and that in-person consultations remain “an essential safeguard” for women, the Government brought in a policy allowing ‘DIY’ home abortions shortly after lockdown began.

The very substantial change was made without any public consultation, parliamentary scrutiny or debate.

Prior to the change in regulations, abortions could only take place in hospitals or abortion clinics approved by the Secretary of State.

Under the new ‘temporary’ policy, doctors are able to prescribe mifepristone and misoprostol over the phone or video platforms such as Facetime or Skype, meaning women will be left to pass their unborn child at home without direct medical supervision.

The Government had initially stated its intention to allow ‘DIY’ abortions on 23 March, but backtracked later that day claiming the announcement had been “published in error.”

The government web page that had published the changes instead had the following message for visitors: “The information on this page has been removed because it was published in error. This was published in error. There will be no changes to abortion regulations.”

Just one day later, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock reassured the House of Commons that there would be no change to any abortion laws in response to COVID-19.

Additionally, Health Minister Lord Bethell made it very clear that there were significant safety and safeguarding issues for women and young girls with the proposal. 

As the Coronavirus Bill was brought to the House of Lords on Wednesday 25 March, Lord Bethell rejected strongly, on behalf of the Government, the proposed changes to abortion law, stating:

“….we do not agree that women should be able to take both treatments for medical abortion at home. We believe that it is an essential safeguard that a woman attends a clinic, to ensure that she has an opportunity to be seen alone and to ensure that there are no issues.

“Do we really want to support an amendment that could remove the only opportunity many women have, often at a most vulnerable stage, to speak confidentially and one-to-one with a doctor about their concerns on abortion and about what the alternatives might be? The bottom line is that, if there is an abusive relationship and no legal requirement for a doctor’s involvement, it is far more likely that a vulnerable woman could be pressured into have an abortion by an abusive partner.”

He also made it clear that it would be inappropriate to make this change without parliamentary scrutiny: “It is not right to rush through this type of change in a sensitive area such as abortion without adequate parliamentary scrutiny.”

Despite these clear statements, the Government went against its own warnings and, in an incredible double U-turn, announced on 30 March it would allow ‘DIY’ home abortions.

Through their legal challenge, the Christian Legal Centre wants the dangerous legislation overturned immediately and full disclosure of the Government’s decision-making process and rationale.

Serious risk of harm and coercion

Their case is being backed by former Government Minister Ann Widdecombe and Dr Gregory Gardner.

In an expert witness statement for the High Court challenge, Dr Gregory Gardner, a longstanding GP and honorary clinical lecturer at the University of Birmingham, highlights the risk of serious injury and harm to women self-administering abortion pills.

“The introduction of home abortions as proposed (notwithstanding the presence of a Covid-19 pandemic) is a policy that is more likely than not to depart from the essential tenets of duty of care through proper clinical assessment, thereby raising the risk of serious injury and harm being done to women self-administering Mifepristone and Misoprostol at home,” Dr Gardner wrote.

In addition to citing risks of infection, haemorrhage, psychological trauma, and risk of future preterm birth, Dr Gardner explains how the Government’s decision could result in more women being coerced into unwanted abortions.

He 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.”

Former Government minister Ann Widdecombe has also written a statement to the high court in support of the legal challenge.

In her statement, the former Shadow Health Secretary reveals the history of the legislation which has enabled health services in England, Scotland & Wales to roll out ‘DIY’ abortions.

During a parliamentary debate in 1990, Miss Widdecombe raised concerns that an amendment to abortion legislation, allowing the Health Secretary to designate “a class of places” as suitable for abortions would inadvertently pave the way for ‘DIY’ home abortions.

However, the author of the amendment, Robert Key MP, dismissed Miss Widdecombe’s concerns and accused the then Conservative MP of speaking from “the whip issued by the pro-life group” and misleading Parliament.

The Health Secretary at the time, Kenneth Clarke, then assured MPs that the legislation was not intended to legalise home abortions and that abortions would be “administered only in closely regulated circumstances under the supervision of a registered medical practitioner”.

Now, 30 years later, Ann Widdecombe’s previously dismissed concerns have become a reality.

When the legal challenge was launched, Ann Widdecombe said: “Parliament was told one thing. Government is doing another and that says it all.”

Significant problems

Since ‘DIY’ home abortions were introduced on 30 March, a number of significant problems have arisen.

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 as more shocking abuses from an undercover investigation have come to light.

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 announced that it was 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 later-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”.

‘Abortion industry at the heart of Government’

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “The case exposes the power and influence of the abortion industry at the heart of government.”

Assisted suicide will save NHS money and provide organs, researchers argue

Legalising assisted suicide would save the NHS money and potentially release higher quality organs for transplant argue researchers at the University of Strathclyde, raising ethical concerns.

The highly controversial paper by Dr David Shaw, an ethicist at the Universities of Basel and Maastricht, and Professor Alec Morton, a health economist and analyst, has been criticised by palliative care and pro-life groups. 

The pair say they do not intend their arguments to be used as the basis on which to change present legislation but claim that permitting assisted suicide would substantially benefit both the small population that seeks it and the larger general population.

Additionally, lead author, Dr Shaw, has dismissed criticisms from individuals – who have suggested it is callous to consider assisted suicide from the perspective of resource management – by labelling this criticism as “misplaced”.

He adds: “We are simply arguing that the economic costs of denying assisted dying should not be ignored; they should not be the key driver of any legal change, but it would be irresponsible not to consider them.”

The researchers argue that up to £74m could be saved if just one-third of the costs involved in caring for those with cancer were cut by vulnerable cancer patients opting for an assisted suicide.

In the paper, the authors write: “Organ donation could also benefit because there are several reasons why donation, after assisted dying, is better from a clinical and economic perspective.

“First, if patients are denied assisted dying, organ function will gradually deteriorate until they die naturally, meaning that transplantation is less likely to be successful. Second, patients who choose assisted dying have to go through a lengthy process, and organ donation can be easily integrated into that process…”

This year it was revealed that the legalisation of assisted suicide in Canada has led to a surge in organ donations and the open solicitation of those considering medically assisted death. In one case, a chronically ill man was denied healthcare at his home and instead offered an assisted suicide. 

Dr Moira McQueen, executive director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, told CNA such practices appear “rather horrifying.”

Given that a person who is approved for euthanasia may not be terminally ill, McQueen added it is not out of the realm of possibility that a primary physician “might well suggest organ donation as, if not an incentive, a kind of ‘consolation’ for the person’s own loss of life.”

The UK parliament has consistently rejected attempts by the assisted suicide lobby to introduce assisted suicide, with 330 to 118 voting against introducing assisted suicide in 2015.

A new Assisted Dying Bill by Lord Falconer has recently received its first reading in the House of Lords. Due to the busy parliamentary timetable, it is unlikely that this bill will be debated further, but it demonstrates the clear intent from the pro-assisted suicide lobby to try and change the law.  

Dr Gordon Macdonald, chief executive of Care Not Killing, which resists any change in the law, said: “This report is highly disturbing. It highlights the dangers of legalising euthanasia. Very quickly the argument moves from that of personal autonomy to doctors and nurses making value judgments about the quality of other people’s lives while seeking to save money and tackle so-called ‘bed blocking’ in health services.” 

A spokesperson for Right To Life, Catherine Robinson said:

“You can learn a lot from paying close attention to countries and other places where assisted suicide and euthanasia has been legalised. Recent evidence from the United States demonstrates how the so-called ‘right to die’ could become the ‘duty to die’. Feelings of being a burden were cited in 55% of Oregon and 56% of Washington assisted-suicide requests in 2017.

“This is especially the case when families and health budgets are placed under financial pressure, which makes the Canadian study which found that the legalisation of assisted suicide could save the health care system up to $138 million per year so alarming. 

“Legalising assisted dying would likely lead to pressure on vulnerable people to choose the quicker, cheaper option of death over palliative care.

“This is further compounded when one considers how the legalisation of assisted dying has led to a surge in organ donations and the open solicitation of those considering medical assistance in dying (known as MAiD) in the country. 

“Rather than assist vulnerable people to end their lives, we should be looking to improve the UK’s palliative care provision and affirm their right to life.”