Creasy’s amendment appears ‘too extreme’ for the abortion lobby
19 January 2024
Independent health consultant Kevin Duffy looks at the abortion lobby’s joint evidence on decriminalisation
BPAS, Marie Stopes, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and a further twenty-four abortion-supporting organisations recently submitted their co-signed written evidence to the Criminal Justice Bill Committee. They did so in response to amendment NC1 tabled at the end of November by Labour MP, Dame Diana Johnson. You can read more about this and other amendments in our earlier post: “Abortion decriminalisation is the wrong solution”.
Six women prosecuted
BPAS et al. begin by decrying the fact that in the past year in England, six women have appeared in court charged with ending or attempting to end their own pregnancy outside abortion law. Across social media, abortion advocates have been protesting what they perceive as a ‘terrifying exponential rise’ in such prosecutions, some referring to ‘hundreds’ of cases. The reality: six court cases in the last year and none resulting in a custodial sentence.
It is most likely that these cases have arisen when women have lied to abortion providers about how many weeks pregnant they are, when asking for the abortion pills using the telemedicine and pills-by-post process. The legal limit for provision of pills-by-post is up to 10-weeks gestational age.
Six cases in the last year should be considered in the context of more than 120,000 women using pills-by-post; a rate of just 1-in-20,000. For me, this is a strong indicator that the current law is working; that it does, in effect, act as a deterrent to women and their partners who might otherwise consider a later-term illegal abortion.
The women affected
BPAS et al. present the following evidence, “A woman was taken to hospital by ambulance owing to complications from early medical abortion medication that she was given after a medical consultation this year. She believed she was ten weeks pregnant, but it emerged she was actually at 19 weeks.”
This is a fine example of the critical weakness of telemedicine abortion, pills-by-post. It is simply not possible for an abortion provider to be certain of the gestational age when relying solely on what the woman tells them on a phone call.
It is for this reason alone – pills-by-post – that the number of prosecution cases has risen in recent years. These cases could be avoided all together by returning to the requirement for an in-person medical consultation before prescribing the abortion pills, as it was before March 2020. The pills-by-post approval was only ever intended as an emergency response to the Covid-19 lockdowns, and it is no longer required nor appropriate.
These abortion advocates write using emotive words about how desperate these women are, and how the police investigations and court prosecutions add ‘extreme stress to an already distressing experience.’ I continue to have sympathy for these vulnerable women, but I do not consider decriminalisation of abortion to be an answer. Instead, I suggest that the CJB Committee considers issuing new guidelines to the police about how they might handle such cases with more sensitivity, and new guidelines for the courts perhaps offering necessary care and support to the women and their families rather than custodial sentences.
The only amendment we need to the abortion law is to rescind the pills-by-post approval and return to mandated in-person medical consultations.
Creasy is too extreme
It is interesting that these abortion providers, supporters and zealots chose to submit their evidence only in support of Dame Diana Johnson’s amendment (NC1) and make no mention of NC2 tabled by Stella Creasy MP. Hers goes far beyond Johnson’s, effectively legalising infanticide, as we noted in a recent post, “a mother who gave birth to a live baby after a failed late-term abortion who then decided to conceal her birth and dispose of the baby would face no criminal sanction.”
It seems that Creasy’s evident absence of any morally defensible position on this matter is too extreme even for BPAS, Marie Stopes and the Royal colleges, all of whom are central and core to the provision of ever-increasing abortion numbers and the, often unreported, harm caused.
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