Government must reverse 'reckless' DIY abortion policy, says pro-life coalition

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An unprecedented coalition of pro-life groups has come together to call on the Government to end DIY abortions.

The call comes from Care For Women nearly a year after the regulations were relaxed following the first lockdown in March 2020.

The service allows women to receive abortion pills in the post before their 10th week of pregnancy. The pills are sent to the women after an e-consultation with a doctor so that they can have an abortion at home.

When it first came into effect, the Government gave assurances that the measure would only be temporary.

Since that time, it has changed its position and is now seeking to make the regulations permanent, having just ended a public consultation seeking views on this.

Care For Women has been formed to challenge the Government's plans. It is comprised of nine pro-life groups, including Christian Concern, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), March for Life and the Pregnancy Crisis Helpline.

They have consistently warned that the pills-by-post service puts women at increased risk of coerced abortions and medical complications, and that pills are being issued without proper assessment.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said: "A large group of pro-life groups have come together as a partnership to stand against this specific issue. Why? Because what has happened over the past year with the government's introduction of telemedicine home abortions has been unprecedented.

"How it was implemented at the height of a national crisis has been so chilling for our democracy and for women and the choices they make when faced with an unplanned pregnancy.

"A year ago, both on the floor of the House of Commons and House of Lords clear promises were made that the measure introduced would be strictly temporary.

"Just as we predicted then the government is now consulting on making the service permanent. Sadly, it will be very difficult to put this kind of measure back in the bottle, but the government must reverse it."

Regan King, CEO of the Pregnancy Crisis Helpline, said there had been a rise in women calling in a state of "considerable distress" and "sobbing" over the phone having been shocked by the reality of an abortion at home.

Others called because they had taken one of the pills before changing their mind and were "desperate" to halt the abortion.

He said there was "next to no" proper assessment of women using the pills-by-post service and that it had removed many of the conventional safeguards.

"Helpline calls can be difficult enough without the added complexity and distress caused by what are arguably state-approved backstreet-esque abortions," he said.

According to data from the coalition, over 70,000 women in England and Wales have undergone a DIY home abortion since March 2020, with abortion pills being sent out without any face to face assessment, identity checks or ultra sound scans to see how far into the pregnancy the women are.

An undercover investigation by Christian Concern found evidence of abortion providers sending pills to women who gave false personal information and gestation dates.

The Sun also reported last May that police were investigating after a woman used the pills-by-post service to abort her baby at 28 weeks.

Earlier this month, a Savanta ComRes poll of GPs commissioned by Christian Concern and SPUC found that most (86%) were concerned about coerced abortions under the DIY system, and that the same proportion were worried about women having an abortion past the legal limit of ten weeks into gestation.

John Deighan, Deputy CEO of SPUC, said the current system was a "reckless policy" that "must end".

"The risks of coercion are obvious, as are the mental health implications for women of having to dispose of a terminated pregnancy themselves," he said.

"Despite the rise in domestic violence during COVID-19 lockdown the government has chosen to abandon woman to DIY abortion, with no safeguarding to protect them from coercion or abuse.

"The sad reality is that many more woman will, likely, now be coerced into abortion from an abusive partner."

Ms Williams added: "The abortion industry claims the new measures are 'safe, ethical and effective' however the evidence has proven the service to be unsafe and wide open to abuse.

"Together we are calling on the government to look at the full picture, not just the data provided by the abortion industry, and to end the service urgently."