Plans by the Scottish Government to let women carry out DIY abortion at home without first attending hospital or a clinic have been savaged in a major new opinion poll.
Emergency measures were brought in last year during the first Covid-19 lockdown to allow women in the first ten weeks of pregnancy to take two abortion pills sent through the post after a phone or video consultation with a doctor or nurse.
Ministers are now consulting on making the scheme permanent.
But the move has been roundly condemned in the Savanta ComRes poll of 1,042 Scots carried out during December on behalf of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.
The poll reveals massive concerns about the scheme expressed by the vast majority, with one of the principal worries that women may be coerced into having unwanted abortions due to remote consultations.
The main findings include:
- Two-thirds of Scottish adults (68 per cent) are concerned about women having a medical abortion at home after a phone or video consultation with a doctor.
- Eight in ten Scottish adults (83 per cent) are concerned about women finding it distressing, potentially having to dispose of the terminated pregnancy either into the toilet or sanitary pads.
- Eight in ten Scottish adults (79 per cent) are concerned about the possibility of abortion pills being falsely obtained for another person with a telemedicine abortion appointment where the doctor has not seen the woman in person.
- More than eight in ten Scottish adults (84 per cent) say they are concerned about women being at risk of being coerced into an abortion by a partner or family member with a telemedicine abortion appointment where the doctor has not seen the woman in person.
- More than eight in ten Scottish adults (86 per cent) say they are concerned about women being at risk of unwanted abortion arising from domestic abuse by partners controlling or monitoring their actions with a telemedicine abortion appointment where the doctor has not seen the woman in person.
John Deighan, CEO of SPUC Scotland said: “This is a searing indictment of the Scottish Government imposing an unwanted abortion policy on an unwilling nation. The Scottish population clearly shows more concern for the health of women and their unborn babies than their shameful elected representatives.
“And the poll proves that the public agree with us, sending a strong warning to our politicians to get their house in order and end this discredited and barbaric policy.
“Since the start of the Covid crisis the focus has been on saving lives. Sadly, the lives of the unborn don’t seem to count. It is appalling that the Scottish Government is using the Covid crisis to push for home abortions to become the norm, depriving many women of the opportunity for reflection and proper medical supervision and support.”
Mr Deighan added: “The home abortion provision is a travesty that should never have been introduced. Allowing women to take powerful drugs at home, alone, with no medical supervision and have them dispose of foetal remains on their own shows a complete lack of care and respect for women, as well as further devaluing the value of human life in the womb.
“The more people become aware of what this new abortion policy involves the more barbaric they realise it is. It is also discredited when they understand how easily the so-called controls can be flouted.”
A recent investigation in England uncovered alarming abuse of the DIY at home abortion system there. The probe revealed that abortion providers had sent abortion drugs to women who had given false personal information (for example, name, address or claimed gestation).
The pills used are misoprostol, which causes the uterus to expel its contents, and is taken 24–48 hours after taking the drug mifepristone, which is intended to destroy the baby at an early stage of pregnancy.
Scottish adults were also very concerned that callers giving false information can easily obtain abortion drugs; that staff at abortion providers collected correct medical and personal information and that women’s mental health is given the highest possible priority.
The SPUC Scotland CEO added: “It is quite clear that the political elite in their metropolitan Edinburgh bubble are out of step with the ordinary men and women voters of this country.
“We have warned from the outset of DIY abortions that the scheme would prove impossible to regulate. This has been confirmed in recent months, in England, where babies who have died after their mothers took the pills when months past the legal and medical limit, and abortion providers have been found to be sending out pills-in-the-post without even basic checks.
“This is nothing less than state-sponsored backstreet abortions.
“The 1967 Abortion Act supposedly ensured women were not having unsafe and unsupervised abortions. This new policy betrays those principles, and it opens the door for many vulnerable to be pushed towards what is seen as the easy option.”
Mr Deighan continued: “It puts women through a terrible emotional and physical ordeal. The determination of the abortion industry to push women to undergo this in their own home illustrates their cavalier attitude to the well-being of women. It further trivialises abortion making women increasingly open to coercion, to make a choice that suits others.
“The abortion pill has been advocated by the Scottish Government as if it were some sanitised and easy way of ending a pregnancy. It is far from that. The move to trivialise abortion is one that harms women and creates an environment where some women are even urged to have an abortion because it does not suit others. By removing stringent medical oversight, the lives of women are endangered.”
Picture: The Union flag, Saltire and EU flag fly outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.