The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has demanded that the UK Government answer a series of key questions over how it treats women’s health, after the Department for Health authorised ‘DIY at-home abortion’ with pills-in-the-post during the Covid-19 crisis.
The group believes the move amounts to nothing more than “state-sponsored backstreet abortions”.
Abortion guidelines have been changed to make it possible for women and girls to take abortion pills at home up to 10 weeks after conception without visiting a clinic and only after a phone consultation.
But SPUC points out that taking abortion pills at home could be fatal for some women, and the pro-life group has also raised concerns about domestic abuse victims being forced into carrying out abortions at home against their will.
Now they want detailed answers to four specific questions from health minister Matt Hancock.
1. How will abortion providers or registered medical practitioners operating remotely be certain that a pregnancy is under nine weeks and six days? Abortion pills taken after 10 weeks give rise to significant complications. In one UK study 53 per cent of medical abortions after 13 weeks required surgical intervention.
2. How will remote abortion assessment ensure that a woman is not being coerced into having the abortion?
3. How will serious medical issues such as ectopic pregnancy be identified via an electronic consultation?
4. How can you justify exposing women to the threat of death? Remote abortion provision can lead to extensive complications, including, rarely, death (one in 100,000). Applied to the abortion data from England and Wales, that would equate to 11 pregnant women dying every year.
In his letter to Matt Hancock, John Smeaton, SPUC’s chief executive, writes: ‘The first concern of SPUC under this new, if temporary, regime, is the potential for even greater loss of unborn human lives.
‘This DIY abortion scheme further erodes this dignity of human life before birth. Very closely aligned to our concern for unborn babies, is our concern for the wellbeing of women.’
Mr Smeaton states: ‘I repeat SPUC’s call for the Government to reverse this dangerous abortion scheme immediately. Your department must also be held fully accountable for the outcome of this rash, ill-advised regime of abortion provision.
Warning that the government scheme amounts to ‘authorising backstreet abortions’, Mr Smeaton said: “This represents a throwback to dark and distant times.
‘Many vulnerable women who may be desperate about the situation they are in, will be pushed towards what is seen as the easy option of being hand- ed some drugs and sent home to stop being a problem for society.
But that would put them through a terrible emotional and physical ordeal, he added: ‘The determination to push women to undergo this in their own home with no real medical supervision illustrates abortion providers’ cavalier attitude.’
Picture: The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock leaving No 10 Downing Street, London, after a Cabinet meeting. (Yui Mok/PA).