Pro-life group threatens legal action over changes to abortion regulations during coronavirus lockdown

(Photo: Unsplash)

A pro-life group is threatening legal action over temporary changes to abortion regulations making it possible for women to terminate their pregnancies at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Government on Monday approved the use of telemedicine for abortion care while the country remains under lockdown. 

The changes allow women and girls to take both pills for early abortion in their own home up to 10 weeks, and removes the need for them to first visit a hospital or clinic, although they are still required to have a telephone or e-consultation with a doctor before going through with the termination. 

The Department of Health insisted last week that there would be no changes to abortion regulations but the U-turn follows huge pressure from groups like BPAS. 

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has called the changes "unlawful".

SPUC Deputy CEO John Deighan said: "SPUC has contested home abortion pill use which heightens physical and psychological dangers for women, and as trivialising the taking of human life by abortion.

"It is unbecoming of the pro-abortion groups to take advantage of our current crisis to pressure the government and threaten further strain on our NHS resources.

"The evidence that abortion pills raise the level of complications for women is clear. Our health service does not need the pressure of dealing with emergencies arising from women self-aborting at home." 

He added: "In light of the confirmation that the Government has changed the policy on abortion to allow both abortion pills to be used at home, SPUC has instructed its legal team to examine the new proposals with a view to instigating judicial review proceedings against the policy.

"It is our understanding that such a policy is beyond the scope of the Abortion Act. However, we will closely examine the policy and take appropriate action based on the best legal advice."

A spokesperson for the Department of Health told the Daily Mail on Sunday night that the changes were not permanent.

"Public safety and continued access to key services is our priority during this difficult period," they said.

"We are updating our guidance so women who need an abortion up to ten weeks and can't access a clinic can use abortion pills at home. This will be on a temporary basis and must follow a telephone or e-consultation with a doctor."

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern, said that allowing women and girls to take such powerful drugs without being seen first was "disturbing". 

"Abortion has nothing to do with coronavirus, and abusing public trust to advance a different agenda undermines trust in the government and effectiveness of response to the epidemic," she said. 

"At a time of national and global crisis, to be pushing through a back-door policy that will put thousands of women at risk is dangerous and chilling.

"This policy will not help the women involved and will only lead to further vulnerability and trauma.

"In a time when we are being constantly warned of the threat to lives as a result of Covid-19, this move is ironic in its flagrant disregard for life. These pills cost somewhere in the region of 15 pence but end a human life.

"It does not smack of a kind and compassionate society, but one that is expedient and does not recognise the value of human life or the vulnerability of a woman who finds herself in a difficult situation."

She called on the Government to urgently repeal the changes. 

"Something has gone wrong at the heart of our democratic systems when such a policy is introduced without proper public scrutiny, especially when our NHS is and will be under such strain in the coming weeks and months," she said. 

Pro-life campaign group, Right to Life UK, is calling on the Government to revoke the "dangerous" provisions. 

Spokesperson Catherine Robinson warned that they put women and girls at risk, and are a threat to those at risk from sex-trafficking or child sexual abuse.

"This is incredibly opportunistic and tragic change pushed by the abortion lobby to take advantage of this crisis. This is the most significant policy change to the practice of Abortion since 1967 and it has happened entirely by the back-door – without any Parliamentary scrutiny or public consultation," she said. 

"For a Government who won the recent election on the premise of giving Parliament "back control", undermining of Parliament's role in our democracy can only be described as an attack on Parliamentary sovereignty: a key component of our democratic system

"This places women at risk. The removal of any direct medical supervision overseeing the use of both abortion pills could see a rise of complications experienced by women, thus putting more strain on our NHS – having the opposite of the effect intended."