Church of England finally opposes DIY abortion

16 February 2022

The Church of England has finally called for the government to put an end to its DIY ‘pills-by-post’ abortion policy, admitting that it has had a negative impact on women and urging for it to be scrapped.

In a written question to General Synod, the Christian Legal Centre’s Rebecca Bensted – also a lay member of Synod for the Portsmouth area – asked what steps the Church of England had taken to request that the government end the temporary policy.

Mark Sheard, the chairman of the Mission and Public Affairs Council, answered for the Church, saying that he has written to Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, to call for the measure to be scrapped. He said that the current DIY abortion policy “has had a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of women and girls accessing these services.”

He further answered:

“For that reason, we argued that the provisions should lapse at the latest when the temporary provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020 expire (24 March 2022). While the Government’s ‘Plan B’ restrictions have now been lifted, incidence of the virus remains high in the community and continues to pose a public health risk which current models suggest will be significantly lessened by the spring. We shall expect the temporary provision to be removed by the end of March, if not sooner, and the Bishop of Carlisle (the lead bishop for healthcare issues) has written accordingly to the Secretary of State for Health.”

Church of England ‘definitely opposes’ DIY abortion being made permanent

The news comes over a year after Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern and former member of General Synod, called on the Church of England to make clear its stand on DIY abortion. Back in November 2020, just eight months after the policy had been brought in and an estimated 50,000 women had used the service, the House of Bishops answered that they would oppose any government plan to make the policy permanent.

In answer to a supplementary question from Andrea Williams asking if the Church of England would admonish the government for taking advantage of the pandemic to introduce DIY abortion, the Bishop of Carlisle responded:

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


However, until this point, the Church had remained silent on the issue.

Dangerous policy

Now, nearly two years on, an estimated 180,000 women have used the home abortion service since its inception in March 2020. Since then, we, along with the Care for Women coalition, have uncovered the many dangers and risks that the policy entails, including the fact that 1 in 17 women end up needing medical intervention following a failed home abortion, and around 495 women end up in hospital every month due to complications arising from taking the pills at home.

It is clear that home abortion is not healthcare.

Let’s give thanks to God that the Church of England has begun to do the right thing in calling for an end to this policy.

Call for an urgent end to DIY abortion

Meanwhile, with Covid measures being eased, now is the time for MPs and ministers to hear the voice of everyone who loves life and cares for women.

You, too, can tell the government to bring an urgent end to the temporary DIY abortion measures.

Please urgently write to your MP and key ministers in the Department of Health and Social Care to urge them to protect more women and end these dangerous measures.

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