Legal challenge against 'DIY' abortions to be taken to the Supreme Court

Christian Concern says health secretary Matt Hancock exceeded his powers in legalising at-home abortions.(Photo: Parliament.Live)

Christian Concern has said it will take its legal challenge against 'DIY' abortions to the Supreme Court after judges sided with health secretary Matt Hancock on Friday.

Abortion regulations were relaxed after the country went into lockdown to allow women to take both abortion pills - misoprostol and mifepristone - at home up to the tenth week of pregnancy following only a phone or video consultation. 

Before lockdown, the first pill, mifepristone, had to be taken at a clinic or other approved medical setting.  After the rules were changed, abortion providers were allowed to send both pills to women in the post. 

The Government is to consult on whether to make the temporary regulations permanent. 

Christian Concern argues that Hancock exceeded his powers as health secretary in implementing the changes.  It further argues that the temporary measures contradict the aim of the Abortion Act to prevent 'backstreet abortions', and leave the system wide open to abuse by those seeking to procure illegal and dangerous late-term abortions.

Friday's judgement claimed that no evidence was brought before the court to show that taking the first pill at home was more dangerous than the second.

However, Christian Concern says that judges at the July hearing refused to consider as evidence a leaked internal NHS communication raising concern over maternal deaths, a murder probe in connection with an at-home abortion, and an undercover investigation showing that women had received abortion pills despite providing false personal details and gestational dates. 

Commenting on Friday's verdict, Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said judges had "wilfully ignored" the evidence around home abortions. 

"The judges refused to hear evidence that would have prevented them from reaching their legal conclusions," she said. 

"The judgment reads like a tortuous attempt to make the Abortion Act say what the judges, service providers and the government want it to say, rather than to uphold its true meaning.

"We are determined to take this to the Supreme Court to correct this misguided and dangerous policy."

She called for the immediate suspension of DIY abortions and an investigation into the pills-by-post services being offered by abortion providers BPAS and Marie Stopes, both of which have denied any wrongdoing. 

"The evidence is clear that DIY abortions are not safe. Women have died. Others have suffered. The process has clearly been abused and used unlawfully," said Ms Williams.

"We warned from the beginning that allowing DIY abortions on a 'temporary basis' would quickly be turned into a permanent measure.

"Now the government has made this intention clear. We will resist this proposal in the consultation with all of the evidence that we have collected which shows that DIY abortions are harmful and dangerous for women."