Christian Concern’s chief executive, Andrea Williams, comments on why we are appealing last week’s High Court ruling on DIY abortions.
Last Tuesday 19 May, we exchanged the first shots in Christian Concern’s legal battle over the DIY home abortions suddenly authorised by the Department of Health on 30 March under the pretext of fighting Coronavirus. Although High Courts Judges, Lord Justice Singh and Mr Justice Chamberlain, refused our application for judicial review, the case will go to the Court of Appeal. It was always going to. Papers will be submitted today 26 May.
The significance of what happened last week, however, is that extraordinary facts and documents have been made public in open court.
The case is not simply about the authorisation of DIY abortions, where pills which put an end to pregnancy are prescribed by telephone and then delivered to the woman by post. The case is about democracy, and the powerful lobbies who are abusing the current Coronavirus crisis to implement their own agenda while the country and its democratic leaders are looking the other way.
On 23 March, the nation’s attention was captivated by the Prime Minister’s televised address announcing a start of the lockdown. At the end of that busy day, Health Secretary Matt Hancock discovered an online statement from a pro-life group, which stated that he, Hancock, had just changed the law to authorise DIY abortions at home. He had not heard of that but his supposed ‘approval’ was published on gov.uk on that day. Civil servants now told him that a submission was sent to him a few days before; that a junior minister, Helen Whately, authorised this change of the law; and it was assumed that Hancock also agreed… Yes, Minister, of course we’ll pull it now.
By the morning of 24 March, all you could find on gov.uk was:
“The information on this page has been removed because it was published in error.
“This was published in error. There will be no changes to abortion regulations.”
The abortion tycoons were not happy.
During question time in the House of Commons on 24 March, Hancock was asked about this four times. He replied to each question with one sentence: “We have no proposals to change any abortion rules as part of the covid-19 response.”
The next day, 25 March, the relentless abortion lobby persuaded two members of the House of Lords to try and achieve the same change of the law by proposing an amendment to Coronavirus Bill. The minister, Lord Bethell, opposed the amendment on behalf of the government. Lord Bethell explained that the requirement to attend a clinic and speak to a doctor one on one was “an essential safeguard” against a woman being pressured by an abusive partner to have an abortion she does not want. The amendment was abandoned, and Parliament went into early recess.
Mysteriously, however, sources in the Health Department then told Sunday Times that that the amendment would be introduced nevertheless. The new ‘Approval’, purportedly on behalf of Matt Hancock, was duly published on 30 March.
The government’s internal documents presented to the court last week shed some light on what actually happened behind the scenes.
The original proposal came from Ann Furedi, chief executive of a major abortion provider, British Pregnancy Advisory Service. “BPAS has been preparing to ask for the home-use of both drugs to be considered in any case,” Miss Furedi wrote. With Furedi, the activist civil servants judged it better to present the proposal to Ministers and then to the public as an emergency COVID-19 temporary measure.
The ‘official-sensitive’ submission they sent to Mr Hancock and Miss Whateley has been made public in open court. An independent expert scrutiny has become possible for the first time. Independent expert witness Kevin Duffy, former global director of another major abortion provider, explained that the submission was very misleading. It portrayed the requirement to attend the clinic in person as an unnecessary formality which made no clinical difference. What it failed to mention is that the visit included a number of clinical tests, including an ultrasound to determine the gestational age. If the gestational age is underestimated, that means an abortion may only take place by different, more complicated means. A mistake might cost the woman dearly. Not only that, but this process could be abused to abort a baby well outside the bounds of abortion law – as in the case of a 28-week abortion reported at the weekend.
The civil servants at DHSC effectively acted as lobbyists for the abortion industry instead of providing honest and impartial advice to the Ministers. When the Ministers publicly assured Parliament that their proposal was rejected, the civil servants simply refused to take no for an answer; with the relentless abortion lobby’s pressure and backing. On Friday 27 March, Ann Furedi emailed to DHSC’s Head of Policy for Alcohol, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Physical Activity Andrea Duncan: “Let’s hope sense prevails over the weekend.” How she knew it would be over the weekend, not some other time, is anybody’s guess.
Indeed, we still cannot be sure what happened at this stage. There is no record of Mr Hancock ever saying yes to the proposal, having publicly said no so many times before. The email from his private office in the evening of Saturday 28 March only says:
“Just had an update from Jamie. [Probably James Njoku-Goodwin, the DHSC special advisor] He has briefed the Sunday Times along the following lines:
- We will be allowing the home use of abortion pills, with the following stipulations:
- Any abortion will require a telephone or e-consultation with a doctor
- This change will be made on a temporary basis only and is time limited for two years, or until the crisis is over, on the same timetable as the emergency legislation. It is not permanent.
- This applies for medical abortions up to 10 weeks as it is currently.
“Jamie said No.10 were happy with this, and the ST are reflecting this in their copy.”
Having told Parliament the change was not happening, Mr Hancock simply disappeared from the picture. All further discussions are recorded as taking place between the abortion industry, civil servants, Jamie, No 10, and the Sunday Times.
We need to get to the bottom of this; and this is why we are appealing. Parliamentarians and Ministers are elected to govern, not to be overruled by the abortion industry and its agents within the civil service. The law only allows the abortion industry to operate subject to strict regulatory controls by the DHSC. We now learn that the DHSC has long been infiltrated by the Furedis of this world, who now make the rules for themselves. The abortion industry has become a monster which the democratic government has no real power to stop. Something must be done about it.
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