Care for Women, a coalition of pro-life groups, is calling on the government to carry out an impartial investigation into the safety of DIY home abortions rather than relying on data from organisations who benefit financially from the service. In a letter to the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), the coalition calls for urgent action as the government continues to deliberate on making the ‘Pills by Post’ service permanent.
The coalition initially formed in response to the government’s decision to ‘temporarily’ allow DIY home abortions at the start of the pandemic. Since the service began on 1 April 2020, safety concerns have repeatedly been raised as unprecedented numbers of vulnerable women continue to take powerful abortion drugs, often at home alone, without proper medical supervision. Now, largely thanks to the service, abortion reached its highest rate in England and Wales since the passing of the Abortion Act in 1967.
The letter to Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, and Health Minister Helen Whately, was written in response to an open letter from signatories from the abortion industry, who describe the ‘Pills by Post’ service as “overwhelmingly positive”, “effective, safe [and] acceptable” and should “become permanent.”
Signatories also included Stonewall, Humanists UK and the Vagina Museum.
Financial benefit from abortion
The Care for Women response urges the DHSC to treat the letter from the abortion industry with “supreme caution” due to flawed and omitted evidence, lack of consideration for vulnerable groups, ongoing data collection issues in regard to abortion complications, and the multiple signatories of the letter who benefit financially from telemedicine abortions.
The letter states:
“Organisations which have control of abortion complication data and which have vested interested in abortion should not be accorded the status of neutral observers. Many of the signatories of the aforementioned letter are abortion providers who benefit financially from abortion and potentially will increase their profits substantially from pills-by-post services which involve less staff and overheads.”
Examples include the abortion guidelines for the pandemic produced by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG). A key resource for government ministers during the crisis, the guidelines were produced by senior figures at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) and MSI Reproductive Choices.
The coalition highlights that both these abortion providers charge the NHS £400 for every ‘Pills by Post’ pack, and the NHS pick up the tab for any subsequent complications. It is therefore no wonder, the letter states, that abortion providers describe the service as “one of the few really positive things to come out of the pandemic.”
Impartial NHS data
The letter also highlights how the government itself has admitted that there are “limitations with the data provided” on the complications women experience after having a home abortion. Health Minister Helen Whately has acknowledged in Parliament that “complications that occur after treatment may not be known to the registered medical practitioner and may not be reported.”
The Care for Women group therefore urge the DHSC to carry out a full examination of how complication data is gathered as currently the only running process has been proven to be ‘faulty.’
The letter describes it as ‘astounding’ that the abortion providers’ letter has failed to mention the wealth of publicly available evidence which brings into serious question the safety of the service. Evidence includes tragic testimonies from women who have experienced life-changing complications due to the service. Furthermore, it details the CQC and NHS England reports of multiple cases of illegal practices and complications including “major resuscitations for major haemorrhages.”
The letter concludes calling on the DHSC:
“to conduct a 360-degree assessment of these measures, with reference to impartial NHS hospital data, ambulance data, women’s testimonies, and professionals who do not share a vested interest in abortion, before any decisions are made.”
Serious data issues
Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said: “It cannot be right that organisations ideologically wedded to home abortion services, and who receive significant financial benefits from it, also control the complication data which significantly shapes government policy.
“The open letter from the abortion industries is a brazen attempt to sugar coat the tragic reality of DIY home abortion with the aim of fulfilling its long-term strategic aim of abortion-on-demand in this country.
“This letter from Care for Women exposes the reality behind DIY home abortions and reveals a service that is anything but ‘safe’ and ‘effective’.
“There is a serious issue with how the DHSC gathers complication data and therefore how it draws conclusions and shapes policy on this issue. Helen Whately herself has said the data is not reliable and complications after a woman has had a home abortion are under reported.
“Therefore, as things stand and through its own admission, the government in potentially making this service permanent would be doing so blindly without knowing the extent of the safety risks involved.
“We urge the government to carry out an independent investigation into the safety of DIY home abortions free from the clutches of the abortion industry. No decisions should be made until impartial NHS hospital data is gathered and properly assessed.”