Bishops will raise concerns with Government if DIY abortion measure is extended

Bishop James Newcome answering a question on DIY abortions during the online General Synod.

The House of Bishops will make their position "extremely clear" to the Government if it decides to make DIY abortions permanent after relaxing the law during the first lockdown.

Bishops were asked about their position during the Church of England's General Synod, being held online this week. 

Christian Concern CEO and General Synod member Andrea Williams said during questions, "Is it not the duty of the church to admonish the civil government for abusing the public health crisis to introduce without parliamentary scrutiny access to DIY abortion?"

She said the changes to abortion rules - originally intended to be temporary - had resulted in a "lack of clinical care for often vulnerable and scared mothers, and death to tens of thousands of babies - easily more than the death toll by Covid - more than 50,000 by this method and facing an overall figure of more than 200,000 abortions this year alone, 9.5 million since the passing of the act, tens of thousands of abortions in this Covid pandemic."

Responding, the Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, said the House of Bishops was "aware just how sensitive an ethical issue this is".

"We have been assured by the government that this is a temporary expedient because women are unable to see their health care provider, or have been on many occasions," he said.

"If this situation is allowed to continue after the present circumstances are over, we will certainly be making our position extremely clear.

"And really the position is quite simply this: on the one hand, principled opposition to abortion generally, and on the other hand, offering care, support and compassion to all women regardless of the choices they make, and that remains where we stand and we are very clear to the government about it."

Rules around abortion access were eased so that women could receive both pills in the post during lockdown and take them at home. 

Critics of the move have warned that they put more women at risk of coerced abortions and health complications. 

Christian Concern has questioned the legality of the Government introducing DIY abortions without parliamentary scrutiny.

It is taking its legal challenge against DIY abortions to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal ruled that the Government acted within the law.

The Government is currently consulting on whether to make DIY abortions permament. 

Bishop Newcome said that making at-home abortions permanent was "something we will definitely oppose".