Press Release

Government to put thousands of women at risk after double U-turn on DIY abortions

31 March 2020         Issued by: Christian Concern

The government has last night (March 30) undertaken an incredible double U-turn by announcing the most significant change to abortion law since 1967.

The official announcement comes despite the government categorically stating last week that there would be no change to abortion law as part of its response to Covid-19.

The announcement will allow women to undertake abortions in their own homes without medical supervision.

The decision comes without any public consultation, parliamentary scrutiny or debate, with the government itself having warned that the move would put thousands of vulnerable women at risk at an already highly vulnerable time.

‘Administrative error’

On Monday 23 March, hours before the national lock down, the Department for Health and Social Care had announced the extreme changes to abortion law on Twitter.

The pro-abortion lobby claimed that the measures were needed because 44,000 women would be unable to access abortion services during the coronavirus crisis.

The formal legislation had been legally signed off by Mark Davies, Director of Population Health, but hours later was dramatically pulled with the tenuous claim that there had been an ‘administrative error.’

The government web page announcing the changes instead had the following message for visitors:

“The information on this page has been removed because it was published in error. This was published in error. There will be no changes to abortion regulations.”

This was followed by the Health Secretary, Matthew Hancock, categorically stating in parliament that: ‘We have no proposals to change abortion law in our Covid-19 response.’

Health Minister rejected amendments

Then, as the Coronavirus Bill was brought to the House of Lords on Wednesday 25 March, Health Minister, Lord Bethell, rejected strongly on behalf of the government the proposed changes to abortion law, stating:

“….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 having an abortion by an abusive partner.”

He also made it clear that it would be inappropriate to make this change without parliamentary scrutiny:

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

He finally pointed out:

“… where we have taken a huge amount of advice — we have worked with the scientific advice in the department —is in the fact that the changes being offered are a fundamental change to the way abortions are regulated and administered in this country. Those regulations and administration arrangements have been worked on for years and are subject to an enormous amount of consensus.”

Government go against their own warnings

Now, despite these clear statements, the government have gone against their own warnings by officially announcing the biggest change to abortion law since the 1967 Abortion Act.

The new measures will see ‘DIY’ abortions performed on women by themselves in their homes without the need for a doctor or medical professional.

Before this proposal, abortions could only take place in hospitals or abortion clinics approved by the Secretary of State.

Under the new temporary policy, doctors will be able to prescribe mifepristone and misoprostol over the phone or video platforms such as Facetime or Skype.

Chief Executive of Christian Concern, Andrea Williams, said:

“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. There are no proposals to our knowledge to use abortion clinics’ capacity or personnel to respond to coronavirus.

“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.

“The idea that our medical profession is prepared to prescribe such powerful drugs, in effect on demand, without seeing the patient is disturbing.

“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.

“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. We call on the government to urgently repeal these changes.”

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