Calls for urgent investigation into DIY abortion deaths

(Photo: Pexels/Andreas Wohlfahrt)

There are calls for the Department of Health to launch an urgent investigation into deaths linked to DIY abortions. 

A leaked email, which came to light during a hearing at the Court of Appeal this week, exposed the serious concerns of NHS staff about the 'pills by post' service being run by abortion providers during the pandemic. 

The email, sent by a senior NHS midwife on 21 May, disclosed that there were 13 incidents under investigation at the time, including the deaths of two women after taking the pills, a woman who received the pills despite being 22 weeks over the legal limit, and a murder investigation into the death of a baby aborted alive. 

The 'pills by post' service allows women to receive abortion pills in the mail up to their tenth week of pregnancy following a phone or video consultation with a doctor., but critics have said from the outset that they put women at increased risk of harm. 

In light of the leaked email, presented as evidence by Christian Concern, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) is asking the Department of Health to investigate the deaths.

Alithea Williams, SPUC Parliamentary Research Officer said: "The truth is coming out that abortion pills are dangerous, even fatal, for women. Neither the Government nor the abortion industry care about women's health and wellbeing. It's time to tell the truth about abortion pills."

The Court of Appeal was this week hearing evidence from Christian Concern about the risks posed by DIY abortions after the organisation was granted a judicial review.

Christian Concern argues that health secretary Matt Hancock exceeded his powers by approving "the home of a pregnant woman" as a place where abortions can legally take place. 

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said the leaked email was a "shocking admission" that abortion providers in England have "elevated ideology over women's safety".

She is calling on the Care Quality Commission to investigate whether more women have died as a result of DIY abortions.

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

"The Abortion Act allows abortions where there is an increased risk to the mother's physical or mental health if the pregnancy is continued. In each of these tragic cases, two lives have been unnecessarily lost – mother and baby.

"This further confirms the inherent danger of DIY abortions that we've been showing through our judicial review case – and shows how ideologues who show little concern for women – and no concern for babies - have captured NHS England as well as the providers and professional bodies."

Pro-life campaign group Right to Life UK said the pills by post service should be suspended immediately. 

Spokesperson Catherine Robinson said the scheme is "inherently dangerous" and shows "no concern" for babies or vulnerable pregnant women.  

"Ever since the UK Government permitted 'DIY' home abortions, stories of illegal late-term abortions and safety abuses have come to light," she said. 

"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 is now the case.

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

She added: "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."