Press Release

Shocking CQC data reveals women having illegal DIY home abortions after 24 weeks

22 February 2021         Issued by: Christian Concern

Data released by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has revealed multiple serious incidents of DIY home abortion, including four women being allowed by providers to have traumatic abortions more than 24 weeks into their pregnancies – 14 weeks beyond the legal limit for early medical abortion.

Further data reveals cases of women being forced to attend A&E with retained products of conception (RPOC), bleeding, and abdominal pain. A further six women are reported to have needed surgical emergency treatment for ectopic pregnancies.

The 31 cases present only those incidents reported to the CQC by NHS England and Improvement between April to November 2020.

There is a noticeable decline in reports after June 2020 suggesting there may be other incidents being managed at hospitals which have not yet been reported to the CQC.

The disclosures affirm that abortion providers cannot correctly assess gestational age from a phone consultation, creating a telemedicine service that is unsafe, repeatedly crosses legal boundaries and is open to abuse.

A full report has been published today by public health consultant and former Marie Stopes International director, Kevin Duffy.

The report details data from FOI requests to NHS ambulance services that indicate that, on average, 36 women make 999 calls every month seeking medical assistance for complications arising from the taking of abortion pills.

The report also includes data from NHS Hospital Trusts that reveal that every month 495 women attend hospital with complications arising from retained products of conception, which occurs when abortion pills fail to complete the abortion.

The ‘temporary’ DIY abortion telemedicine measures were signed off by Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, on 30 March 2020 after a controversial double U-turn.

The regulations allow women to abort their child at home, and the government is now consulting on making the service permanent. The consultation closes on 26 February 2021.

Kirsty and Natalia’s devastating stories

11 months since the telemedicine service was introduced, more women are beginning to tell their heart-breaking stories.

Kirsty, 36, has told of her devastating experience of DIY home abortion for the first time on video as has 20-year-old Natalia.

In April 2020, Kirsty found out she was pregnant. She was shocked, but happy at the news. Initially she kept the pregnancy a secret, but once she told her partner, Kirsty was emotionally blackmailed and coerced into contacting an abortion provider.

“I was rushed through process over the phone,” she said. “It was all about where to send the pills to as I was close to being 10 weeks pregnant. I wanted a scan and to know whether the procedure would be safe. I thought I would have to go to hospital but was told I had to do it at home.

“After taking both abortion pills at home alone, I felt horrible and was shaking. The pain relief made me sick and I decided to try and sleep through it.

“When I woke up, I lifted up my blanket and it was like a scene out of a horror movie.

“The cramps were really bad, I felt blood down my legs, and it left a stain on the carpet. That is all I’ve got left of my baby now. I went to have a shower and I remember washing my baby down the shower drain.

“I was at a point where I did not want to wake up anymore. I’ve not just lost my baby; I’ve lost a part of me.

“I wish on the one call that I had that they would have been more compassionate and checked if I was sure I wanted to do it. I didn’t want to do it, but I was in a controlling and manipulative relationship.

“The home abortion is made to think you are doing it in the comfort of your own home. But instead, you have the memory of what you have done in your own home forever. My home is no longer my happy safe space, it is the place where I took away my child.”

Kirsty and Natalia are now being supported by Rachel’s Vineyard, a recovery centre for women who have had traumatic abortions.

‘No follow-up consultation’

Rachel Mackenzie, who runs Rachel’s Vineyard and has been supporting Kirsty, said: “We are supporting unprecedented numbers of women and teenagers suffering trauma due to DIY home abortion.

“A lot of the trauma is stemming from having to deal with the situation alone; from dating their own pregnancies and administering their own drugs to disposing of their own foetus/baby and having no follow-up consultation.

“A number of women we support are coerced into having an abortion by their partners; and the DIY abortion service provides them with no protection from this.

“If we truly care about women’s mental, emotional and physical well-being this service needs to end immediately.”

Commenting on the CQC data revealing women having abortions more than 24 weeks into a pregnancy, Kevin Duffy, an independent public health consultant, said: “A woman having a medical abortion at 24 weeks or more is experiencing induced labour of a sizable baby, possibly at home without proper support.  

“This would be traumatic and could lead to further physical and mental health issues.

“Worryingly, the telemedicine service cannot identify whether a woman is this far into her pregnancy, because it relies completely on the woman giving an honest and accurate gestational date over the phone.

“This could never happen under supervision in a clinic, which is why the government must end immediately the telemedicine service before more women have these life-changing experiences.”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said: “Abortion pills are powerful drugs and the idea that women are receiving them through the post and taking them without proper medical supervision hardly bears thinking about.

“Alarmingly, the government is now consulting the public on whether to make this dangerous and often illegal practice permanent, still without any parliamentary scrutiny. Women deserve better than this.”

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