Christian Concern’s case, challenging the government’s sudden DIY abortion approval revolves around the promises made to Parliament. How can the government tell parliament that the home abortion policy won’t change but only days later, with Parliament shut down completely reverse its decision?
But it isn’t just that the government changed its mind. It’s that it knew what it was doing was dangerous.
An ‘essential safeguard’ tossed aside
On behalf of the government, Lord Bethell had defended its earlier position not to allow home abortions:
“However, 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.
“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.”
How can an ‘essential safeguard’ be tossed away without further scrutiny days later? We are talking about a major safety issue: women being pressured into abortions by abusive partners. What studies or evidence showed that this ‘essential safeguard’ was unnecessary? Did it consider how many coerced abortions were acceptable to the Department of Health when succumbing to the abortion lobby’s wishes?
Expert lays out the risks:
In his expert witness statement supporting Christian Concern’s case, Dr Gregory Gardner highlights some of the dangers inherent in allowing DIY abortions.
“Induced abortion is a medical procedure regulated by law. It is treated differently than other interventions because there is a possibility it may cause injury to the mother – either physical or psychological – and because unborn children need the protection of the law. There may also be risks to a mother’s future children … There are dangers relating to medical abortion in general, including dangers in the way that communication between doctor and patient may be compromised by changes in the regulations, and dangers to the woman as a result of the relaxation of safeguards.”
He notes extra risks where infections may be present that cannot be picked up without an in-person consultation, highlighting the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ own recommendation that all women having an abortion are screened for Chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases.
He points to data suggesting high numbers of haemorrhages after medical abortion – that is only increased where gestational age is unclear. Because many women are unsure of when the pregnancy began, ultrasounds are important to determine the unborn child’s age and what appropriate treatments there may be. In reality, no procedure aimed at killing the unborn child is truly appropriate, but some cause additional risk to the mother.
Dr Gardner points to communication problems, risks of psychological trauma and underlines that the government’s earlier position was indeed right – women are put at risk of coercion because of this policy.
He sums up his evidence:
“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.”
Home abortion pills being foisted on women
Clare McCullough, who gives practical support to women in crisis pregnancies, speaks about her concerns about the policy:
“I think that women who are at risk of domestic violence are hugely vulnerable to this pill being foisted on them before they have any other options.”
She relays a story of a woman who took the first abortion pill, Mifepristone and immediately regretted it:
“I saw a woman recently who had taken the pill, under pressure, and immediately after taking it wanted to seek help to get a reversal of the abortion done…so now she’s sitting at home, experiencing light bleeding, praying that it won’t get any worse, praying that she won’t lose the baby. This is a horrific situation for someone to live through. This isn’t just one story, this is many women who we’ve spoken to.”
Government should reverse policy immediately
So, given the obvious risks to women, why would the government allow this? What was going on behind the scenes that caused the sudden, undemocratic U-turn?
It’s possible that we find out more in tomorrow’s case, but it is hard not to see the pressure of the abortion industry in pushing for the change. In a letter to the Sunday Times, some 50 ‘experts’ piled the pressure on, claiming there was a risk of women having to travel further and consequently catching the coronavirus.
Although mostly unnamed, the groups listed are consistent advocates for the abortion industry: BPAS, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Marie Stopes amongst them.
The government sends significant sums of money to these key players for providing abortion services. BPAS, the largest provider of UK abortions received £33 million for services provided in 2019, although it is not immediately clear from their accounts how much of this is government-funded. Marie Stopes International gets a smaller amount for UK abortion services but also receives £48 million a year from the Department for International Development for its work abroad.
It is very hard to put aside these close links and remain principled and objective under such pressure. But it is not the department’s job to merely give the abortion industry what it wants.
The government should admit its mistake and reverse this disastrous policy immediately.