Government plan to end DIY abortions welcomed by pro-lifers

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Pro-lifers have welcomed a government announcement confirming the return to pre-pandemic abortion regulations.

Temporary measures were introduced at the start of the pandemic to allow 'DIY' at-home abortions up to the tenth week of pregnancy.

The relaxation of the rules was condemned by pro-life groups who warned that allowing women and girls to self-administer their own abortions at home without in-person medical supervision, safeguarding checks or medical examinations put them at substantial risk.

These concerns were shared by over 600 medical professionals who called in a letter to the Scottish, Welsh and English governments for an end to DIY abortions over concerns about coercion and breaches of the 10-week limit.

Last November, a study suggested that more than 10,000 women in England had to receive hospital treatment after taking abortion pills at home between April 2020 and September 2021.

In May 2020, it was reported that police had launched an investigation into a baby born at 28 weeks after its mother had taken abortion pills at home.

A poll by Savanta ComRes also found that most members of the public and GPs wanted 'DIY' home abortions to end.

The Department of Health and Social Care has now confirmed that the provision is to come to an end on 30 August, five months after the original deadline. 

Campaign group Right to Life UK said it was disappointed that the provision was not being ended in March as originally planned, but welcomed the government's commitment to removing the measure in the summer. 

Spokesperson for the group, Catherine Robinson, said, "At-home abortion schemes have been linked to a series of scandals where women have been put at risk by the removal of an in-person consultation.

"By removing a routine in-person consultation that allows medical practitioners to certify gestation and recognise potential coercion or abuse, 'at-home' abortion has presented serious risks to women and girls in abusive situations.

"It has allowed severe complications to occur, as well as abortions beyond the legal limit, as abortion providers currently cannot ensure the pills are taken by the intended individual within the appropriate time frame." 

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern,who led a legal challenge against the government's introduction of the service, said: "We welcome the government's decision to finally reverse its emergency authorisation for at-home abortion.

"The policy was put in place after a double u-turn from the government during the chaos of the first lockdown. Ministers at the time told parliament they would not allow at-home abortions, warning of the dangers the policy would cause to women.

"Their fears were entirely founded, though abortion providers have done all they can to whitewash its appalling safety record." 

Michael Robinson, executive director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said: "The DIY home abortion scheme has inflicted untold damage to countless mothers and their babies. SPUC welcomes the decision to reverse this cruel policy which ignored the needs of women."