Britain’s largest private abortion provider, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), has been awarded the ‘Women’s Health’ award for their role in the promotion and administration of their ‘DIY’ home abortion scheme.
At the 13th annual The BMJ Awards (British Medical Journal), the abortion provider received its award for its “development & launch of [its] telemedical abortion care service”.
The BMJ outlined in an award video that “refinement of the service with client and staff input led to sustained uptake, with 66,000 telemedical abortions provided to date”.
Telemedicine abortions, or DIY home abortions, where both sets of abortion pills in a medical abortion can be taken at home without ever having a face-to-face consultation with a medical professional, were introduced at the beginning of the state imposed lockdowns in response to the COVID-19 virus at the end of March 2020.
On winning the ward, Patricia Lohr, Medical Director at BPAS and Director for the Centre for Reproductive Research & Communication tweeted:
“Proud for all our staff who made the service happen and pleased for all the patients it has benefitted. We must retain #Telemedicine and #mifepristone at home”.
Similarly Chief Executive of BPAS Clare Murphy said: “We must ensure this groundbreaking women’s health service remains”.
Sponsors of the award, The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), who have lobbied the Government to make DIY home abortions a permanent feature of the law, said: “We hope to see the Governments across England, Wales and Scotland to announce a positive decision on home use of mifepristone and telemedicine for Early Medical Abortion on a permanent basis”.
DIY abortions in England, Wales and Scotland
A number of senior politicians have been outspoken about the many dangers posed to women by unsupervised ‘DIY’ home abortions.
In an article written at the end of last year, 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”.
Police investigations and coercion
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.
Alongside the medical complications of ‘DIY’ home abortion, Baroness Stroud decried the potential for abuse and coercion, which becomes difficult to detect without in-person consultation.
A series of undercover mystery shopper investigations led by Kevin Duffy who was previously a director at abortion provider MSI Reproductive Choices, revealed how a number of women were able to obtain pills for their children by pretending to be pregnant themselves. Other women in the investigation were able to obtain abortion pills after the 10-week limit.
In June, over 600 UK medical professionals signed an open letter to the Government calling for an end to ‘at-home’ abortion due to concerns that it has led to a number of abortions occurring over the ten-week limit and that it fails to protect women and girls from being coerced into an abortion against their will.
One signatory, Dr Calum Miller of Oxford University, said an in-person medical examination was “a critical safety measure to check the gestation of the pregnancy” and other possible medical issues, adding: “We should not be failing women by eliminating the checks”.
Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “The giving of this award to the largest abortion provider in the UK reveals a lot about the ideological priorities of some in the British medical establishment. Sadly, they appear to be as fanatical about abortion as the abortion providers themselves”.
“The evidence of the dangers of DIY abortions is overwhelming. DIY abortion allows ease of coercion and abuse and they are potentially life threatening as women can give an incorrect indication of how many weeks gestation they are. This is not merely theoretical. This has already happened”.
“The BMJ, like BPAS and other supporters of DIY abortions, have shown that they are more committed to promoting abortion than actually caring for women, let alone their children”.