Nurse who had home abortion says she thought she was 'going to die'

A nurse is considering legal action against Marie Stopes International after she says she needed emergency surgery following a DIY home abortion.

The 30-year-old, named only as Sophie, was given abortion tablets by Marie Stopes to take at home.  She claims she was in a state of distress and was not "properly checked" by the abortion provider before being issued with the tablets. 

After taking the tablets at home, Sophie says she started experiencing the "most excruciating pain" that left her feeling like she was "going to die". 

After 10 days of bleeding, she was admitted to hospital for emergency surgery to remove remaining pregnancy tissue. 

Sophie, who is being assisted by the Christian Legal Centre, says that she did not receive any follow-up support from Marie Stopes after taking the pills. 

"When I repeatedly called, I was told that they did not have any counsellors available and that I could not get an appointment," she said. 

"Marie Stopes knew I had this complication and was suffering, yet no one called me, no one checked to see what was going on ... The counselling was not available when I needed it most." 

Now recovering from her surgery, Sophie is receiving support from the Pregnancy Crisis Helpline which supports women who are going through or have experienced crisis pregnancies.

She said: "The whole experience of having a 'DIY' abortion has been far worse than if I was now 10 weeks pregnant. I am appalled and horrified at what has happened to me and how much blood I lost.

"I don't believe that I was ok to make this decision. I don't believe I was properly checked or even cared about." 

She added:"There must be proper assessments for women in crisis pregnancies rather than being rushed through such a traumatic process.

"Every day since, I have asked myself: 'why did I do it?' I was in shock. It was totally wrong for me."

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: "Sophie has shown immense courage to tell her story after what she has been through.

"Those running abortion services in England have elevated ideology over women's safety, and we are seeing the tragic consequences of that.

"We are concerned about how many more of the tens of thousands of women who have accessed this service have had similar traumatic experiences." 

Abortion regulations were relaxed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock after the start of lockdown to allow pregnant women to have abortions at home instead of approved venues like abortion clinics. 

The pills can be sent to women in the post up to the 10th week of pregnancy following a telephone or video consultation. 

Christian Concern - the sister organisation of the Christian Legal Centre - launched a legal challenge against the changes but this was rejected by the Court of Appeal.  Christian Concern plans to appeal the verdict. 

Ms Williams continued: "[DIY abortion] pills are highly dangerous drugs which should not be handed out at a clinic or posted to women to take at home without proper medical supervision.

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

"The DIY abortion service is a dangerous lottery. We call on the Care Quality Commission to urgently analyse its data in order to fully understand and investigate how many more women across the UK have been damaged by this service since it was introduced by the government on 30 March."

Responding to the claims, Jonathan Lord, Marie Stopes UK's Medical Director said in a statement: "As we have not been given any details about this particular case we are unable to respond to any specific allegations, especially as some of what's described doesn't fit with how we operate. If she is one of our patients, we would strongly encourage her to get in touch so we can ensure her concerns are properly addressed.

"What we can say is that we always follow the latest guidance and strive to treat every client with care and compassion.

"We have strict eligibility criteria to determine if clients are suitable for treatment at home and wherever possible will offer clients choice in all its forms: from the fundamental choice of whether to proceed, choice to come into a clinic or remain at home and choice to have a scan.

"We also carefully counsel clients on what signs to look out for and offer a 24-hour aftercare helpline with trained medical nurses and independent counsellors ready to respond to any concerns.

"This type of medical abortion has been chosen by over a million women in the UK, and many more worldwide, for over a decade and the overwhelming majority find it safe, acceptable and value the additional privacy of home use."