MPs want return to in-person consultations for home abortions

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A group of MPs has tabled an amendment to reinstate in-person consultations for home abortions. 

The cross-party group of 46 MPs is being led by Flick Drummond, Conservative MP for the Meon Valley. 

The amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill would require women to have an in-person consultation with a medical professional before being allowed to take abortion pills at home.

Supporters of the amendment include former Cabinet ministers Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, and former deputy prime ministers, Thérèse Coffey and Damian Green. 

Polling published in the Daily Telegraph shows strong support among women (71%) for the reinstatement of in-person appointments while only 16% of the public support current proposals to decriminalise abortion.

There is also strong support for in-person consultations among medical professionals, with hundreds adding their name to a letter to MPs. They say the consultations should be reinstated because of the health risks associated with both pills being taken without in-person oversight. 

In a case that made headlines last year, Carla Foster was jailed for taking abortion pills over the 10-week legal limit. She was between 32 and 34 weeks pregnant at the time.

Drummond told The Telegraph that women using abortion pills at home without an in-person consultation were "being put in danger from the serious risks associated with missed health issues, abortion coercion and the danger of self-administered late-term abortions".

"My amendment would reinstate in-person consultations, where medical professionals would have the opportunity to accurately assess, in-person, any likely health risks for a woman taking abortion pills, her gestational age and the possibility of a coerced abortion," she said. 

"Women would continue to be able to have a medical abortion at home, but with the vital safeguards that come with an in-person consultation. This is a common-sense proposal that already has widespread support from across the House."

Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: "Only two years ago, the vote to make at-home abortions permanently available passed by just 27 votes. A large number of MPs had serious concerns about the negative impact these schemes would have on women.

"Since then, we have seen these concerns borne out, with women such as Carla Foster performing at-home abortions well beyond the 24-week time limit, putting their health at serious risk.

"If Carla Foster had been given an in-person consultation, where her gestation could have been accurately determined, she would not have been able to access abortion pills and this tragic case would have been prevented.

"The clear solution here is the urgent reinstatement of in-person appointments. This would prevent women's lives from being put at risk from self-administered late-term abortions."