Press Release

“That is something we will definitely oppose” – House of Bishops confirm they will challenge any government proposals to make ‘DIY’ abortion permanent

24 November 2020         Issued by: Christian Concern

The House of Bishops has stated at this week’s Church of England General Synod that they will oppose any government plans to make the ‘DIY’ home abortion telemedicine service permanent.

The controversial service was brought in under the radar on a ‘temporary’ basis without any consultation or parliamentary debate by the government at the start of UK lockdown in March.

Since then an estimated 55,000 pregnant women have used the service with numerous cases of serious trauma and complications.

Cases exposed have included leaked internal documentation from the NHS revealing maternal deaths and murder investigations.

FOI requests from just two of the UK’s inner city hospitals, Lewisham and Greenwich and Birmingham hospital, have also revealed 14 women experiencing serious complications between March-September 2020.

Complications included: renal failure, haemorrhage, sepsis, shock, trauma and incomplete abortion. A number of patients required blood transfusions and further surgery to remove “retained products of conception”.

An undercover investigation has also exposed abortion providers repeatedly overstepping legal boundaries.

MP Helen Whately has confirmed in parliament in response to questions regarding the maternal deaths that investigations in one case are ‘continuing.’ Despite this she also confirmed the government plan to hold a consultation on making the service permanent.

Christian Concern is taking its challenge of the government’s DIY abortion policy to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal ruled that the government’s approval of home abortions was lawful.

Until this week, the Church of England has been silent on the matter.

‘We have been clear to the government’

Addressing the House of Bishops during General Synod this week, Christian Concern’s chief executive Andrea Williams asked if Bishops would admonish the government for introducing the service and oppose the calls from the abortion lobby to make it permanent subject to a consultation.

In response, the Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, stated:

“We are aware of how sensitive and ethical an issue this is and have been assured by the government that this is a temporary expedient because women are unable to see their healthcare provider…if this situation is allowed to continue after the present circumstances are over we will certainly be making our position extremely clear, and the position is quite simply this: on the one hand is opposition to abortion generally, and on the other hand offering care, support and compassion to all women regardless of the choices they make about this and that remains where we stand and we were very clear to the government about it.”

Bishop Newcombe was then asked a further question from general synod member David Lamming, who asked if the House of Bishops was aware that a consultation is being proposed on making the service permanent.

Bishop Newcombe replied: “To my knowledge we haven’t discussed this as a House of Bishops, and I’m interested by what you are saying about it becoming a permanent feature. That is something we would definitely oppose.”

‘More engagement needed’

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “We welcome this statement from the House of Bishops, but also call on them to engage further with the issue and the imminent threat of these measures becoming permanent, before it is too late.

“DIY abortion is a heart-breaking tragedy which has taken more lives during this pandemic than coronavirus itself. Over 200,000 abortions are expected to take place this year in the UK alone.

“Vulnerable women deserve so much better than to be rushed into a life-changing decision and traumatic procedure without proper clinical care.

“The FOI requests from just two inner city hospitals reveal the ongoing danger this service poses to women at a time when they are in need of urgent care and emotional support.”

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