The dark side of DIY abortions: a system without safeguards

11 August 2020

The Christian Legal Centre’s Roger Kiska responds to recent article in The Telegraph criticising our ‘mystery client’ investigation into DIY abortion.

On 29 July 2020, the Telegraph published an article by Rebecca Reid disparaging an investigation which found a complete disregard for safeguarding in the new telemedicine abortion scheme. Quoting BPAS spokesperson Clare Murphy, the article went on to criticise the ‘mystery client’ investigation, commissioned by Christian Concern, for wasting time, energy and NHS resources to prove that any woman who needs an abortion can get one. Ms Reid makes a passionate defence that no matter what the reason – whether it is vanity, wanting to go on a reality TV show or a simple case of wanting to be able to smoke and drink as much as you want – there is no invalid reason for procuring an abortion.

Abortion in the first trimester

Apart from the fact that this position shows an utter lack of humanity, Rebecca Reid is promoting illegal abortions. The 1967 Abortion Act does not allow for abortion for any reason and is in fact meant to safeguard against abortion for any reason.

While BPAS argues that abortion on demand is available in most countries, this is in fact wrong. There are a great number of countries which ban abortion all together or limit it to protecting the health and life of the mother; 103 countries to be exact. Suggesting that we should take on legislation just because other countries do so is a fool’s errand. After all, other countries stone women for adultery, imprison political opponents or administer judicial caning, all within the law. I doubt BPAS would advocate that these practices should be undertaken in the UK just because they are legal elsewhere.

In a stroke of irony, Ms Reid tells her readers that we should ignore arguments using vulnerable cases such as rape, as they are the exception and not the rule. The fact is that abortion advocates have for years used these exceptional cases as a battering ram to bring in liberalised abortion, most recently in the Northern Ireland regulations which the people there neither asked for nor wanted. Ms Reid puts the circular and disingenuous arguments of the pro-abortion lobby on full display.

Why the ‘mystery client’ investigation matters

Marie Stopes UK and BPAS have gone to great lengths to criticise, minimise and demonise the ‘Mystery Shopper’ investigation where 20 actors using fake names, dates of births, gestational ages and GP Surgery registrations sought to obtain abortion pills by post using any number of legally dubious scenarios to uncover just how subject to abuse the existing system is. They argue this was a waste of NHS resources and simply shows abortion providers doing what they are ‘meant to do’ – provide women with abortions.

What Marie Stopes UK and BPAS fail to recognise, however, is the complete waste of money on funding illegal abortions through their services. This is precisely why the ‘mystery client’ investigation was needed. Every one of those 20 volunteers obtained the abortion tablets despite the fact that they were neither actually pregnant nor even real people.

Under the current regime, abortion providers fill out a document known as an HSA-4 form, in which they do not have to provide any details about the actual women seeking the pills. They merely have to put in the name of the GP Surgery identified by the caller, without any cross-checking to ensure the woman actually ever attended that GP or even if she really exists. Using this form, the abortion provider gets paid and the women gets the tablets without any medical record of it whatsoever.

The unadulterated lack of oversight suggests that either BPAS and Marie Stopes UK are mind-numbingly incompetent, or that they have very little regard for the health and safety of women, and abortions are in fact being done outside the bounds of the law. It is a system ripe for abuse.

Systematic abuse

Abuses of the regulations are also becoming commonplace. BPAS recently announced that it was investigating at least 9 cases where the abortifacients had been prescribed beyond the 10-week limit mandated by the regulation, with one of those incidences being in the 28th week of pregnancy. Meanwhile, on 11 June, the Department for Health released abortion statistics showing the highest number of abortions ever recorded in England and Wales, a heart-breaking 207, 384 abortions.

Regardless of how much abortion providers deny that the current system is safe, common sense tells us otherwise. Even under perfect conditions, when abortion tablets are taken within the first 9 weeks, 3 in 100 women will have had incomplete abortions requiring surgical treatment to complete the abortion.

If a woman, seeking to circumvent the law because she is over 10 weeks pregnant, or because she simply was wrong in her good faith effort to determine when she got pregnant, the number of incomplete abortions more than doubles after 10 weeks, and the rate of side effects increases immensely.

Just how unsafe is the existing regulation? In the short time it has been in place, two women have already allegedly died from taking the tablets. A murder probe has begun into the death of a new born after its mother illegally took abortion tablets she received in the post; while police in the Midlands are investigating another two similar cases. And yet BPAS and Marie Stopes continue to tell us that these abortions are safe.

Mental health

There have already been documented cases of women who regret having taken the abortion pills, having made their decision in the heat of the moment and with no real time to gather their thoughts or obtain proper advice.

More than this, passing the aborted child has its own significant mental health risks. Even within 8 weeks of being pregnant, a woman may be able to see larger pieces of the baby’s tissue, the pregnancy sac and in more uncommon cases the fetus itself. At the 10th week, the baby is the size of an olive and its shape is recognisable when passed from the body. For all of the efforts the abortion industry has made to dehumanise the unborn child, facing the reality of medical abortion on your own can be an incredibly traumatic experience.

We need to re-discover our common humanity

The truth is that telemedicine abortions are not as safe as we have been told. Rather than admitting the existing lack of oversight into how tablets are being mailed to women amid mounting evidence of abuse, BPAS and Marie Stopes UK have doubled down that those seeking to uncover deficiencies in their work are the problem, and not them. They are playing a reckless game with women’s health and well-being.

What should disturb us all however, is how open these providers are about their belief that any reason is a good reason to have an abortion, going so far as to prompt women in providing a legal basis for an abortion even where the caller has been open that she does not have a legally valid reason.

Human life is precious. It deserves more respect than to be discarded for reasons as spurious as wanting to be able to drink and smoke or to look good on the beach in a bikini. Future generations may rightly be shocked and disturbed by our frightful lack of humanity, and justifiably so. As each year passes, we continue to break records for the amount of abortions undertaken in this country while at the same time inventing new and less regulated ways to end unborn life. To paraphrase the famous orator Robert Ingersoll, justice should remove the bandage from her eyes long enough to distinguish between the vicious and the innocent. It is time to put an end to the DIY abortion experiment.

Find out more about DIY abortions
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