DIY abortions

The Court of Appeal is reviewing the government’s double-u-turn on ‘abortion at home’, after Christian Concern mounted a legal challenge.


In March 2020, just before the national lockdown began, a notice appeared on the government website seeming to allow women to conduct their own medical abortions at home.

Outcry followed and the notice was removed, the government website claiming that it was “published in error.” Website visitors were reassured that there would “be no changes to abortion regulations.”

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, assured the House of Commons: “There are no proposals to change the abortion rules due to Covid-19.”

Health Minister Lord Bethell told the House of Lords:

“…we do not agree that women should be able to take both treatments for medical abortion at home. We believe that it is an essential safeguard that a woman attends a clinic, to ensure that she has an opportunity to be seen alone and to ensure that there are no issues.

“Do we really want to support an amendment that could remove the only opportunity many women have, often at a most vulnerable stage, to speak confidentially and one-to-one with a doctor about their concerns on abortion and about what the alternatives might be? The bottom line is that, if there is an abusive relationship and no legal requirement for a doctor’s involvement, it is far more likely that a vulnerable woman could be pressured into have an abortion by an abusive partner…

“…It is not right to rush through this type of change in a sensitive area such as abortion without adequate parliamentary scrutiny.”

But just a few days later, the government made an extraordinary U-turn. In spite of all the previous assurances, on 30 March, regulations were amended to allow women to abort their child at home.

The move puts women at risk, further liberalises abortion practice in the UK, and undermines democratic process.

Christian Concern’s case was heard by the Court of Appeal on 29 July. We await a ruling from the court.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern commented:

“The UK government is going to extraordinary lengths to protect lives due to the threat of Covid-19. It appears to fail to see the irony in opening up access to abortion and counting the lives that will be lost as a result of such action.”

High Court legal documents

Court of Appeal legal documents

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