‘Sophie’ (not her real name), a professional nurse and humanitarian aid worker, is considering legal action against Marie Stopes UK after needing emergency surgery following on from taking DIY home abortion pills.
Sophie says she feared for her life after taking the pills given to her by Marie Stopes UK. She had no follow-up care from the abortion provider and was told that there were no counsellors available to her.
Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Sophie is now considering legal action against the abortion provider for medical negligence.
‘Rushed through the process’
Sophie, who is in her 30s, discovered that she was pregnant in July, but sadly found herself alone, panicking and feeling as if she had nowhere else to turn.
Having never been pregnant before, Sophie searched online for ‘abortion services in the UK’. Distressed and confused, she contacted Marie Stopes, initially just to enquire what the abortion process was.
She commented on the experience: “The whole conversation is a blur to me, as I was in and out of crying. I didn’t know what I was doing; I was completely alone.
“The health advisor advisor asked me what the reasons were for abortion and I said: ‘I was not in a situation I was able to cope with.’ The advisor said: ‘Ok, I’ll put it down as emotional.’
“I just didn’t want there to be a heartbeat. I was bonded to it, and I did not think I would be able to live with the regret.
“I was invited to a Marie Stopes clinic for a scan. There was no ‘hello’ or anything, I was told to just sit on the couch. I was asked if I was sure about what I was doing. I said I was 90% sure, but that I was really confused.
“They must have seen how upset I was and that I was in no position to make a decision about anything. I wasn’t with it at all, she must have looked at me and been able to tell I wasn’t ok.”
‘I thought I was going to die’
Sophie was told by the medical professionals at Marie Stopes that she was five weeks and two days pregnant, and that if she wanted to terminate the pregnancy, she could take two abortion pills at home.
“I said that I didn’t want to take them at home as I would be on my own,” she said. “But I was reassured that 98% of women do not experience complications and it would be just like bad period cramps.”
Told she could get pain relief from the pharmacy, Sophie returned home with the pills, “stared at them for hours,” and waited for a friend to come over to be with her before taking the first pill.
“When I took the second pill at home,” she says, “I began to experience the most excruciating pain. It continued to escalate that evening to the extent I thought I was going to die.
“I was desperate for more pain relief. Fortunately, my friend prevented me from taking too much.”
‘I still felt pregnant, my body was still changing’
The following afternoon, Sophie began to experience significant bleeding that lasted for ten days. Alarmingly, she still felt pregnant.
“My body was still changing, I still felt pregnant,” she said. “By this point I was in serious distress and didn’t understand what was happening. I had no follow-up from Marie Stopes. When I repeatedly called, I was told that they did not have any counsellors available and that I could not get an appointment.”
Desperate and anxious to know why she still felt pregnant, Sophie attended a hospital and had an internal scan.
She was told that she still had products of conception inside of her that had a blood supply and ‘looked like a sack’. She was then given the options of taking more abortion pills or having emergency surgery.
Now in recovery
Now recovering after surgery, Sophie is receiving support from the Pregnancy Crisis Helpline which supports women who are going through or have experienced crisis pregnancies.
She said: “The whole experience of having a ‘DIY’ abortion has been far worse than if I was now 10 weeks pregnant. I am appalled and horrified at what has happened to me and how much blood I lost.
“I don’t believe that I was ok to make this decision. I don’t believe I was properly checked or even cared about.
“Marie Stopes knew I had this complication and was suffering, yet no one called me, no one checked to see what was going on. I cannot imagine what would have happened if I had been completely alone. The counselling was not available when I needed it most.
“There must be proper assessments for women in crisis pregnancies rather than being rushed through such a traumatic process.
“Every day since, I have asked myself: ‘why did I do it?’ I was in shock. It was totally wrong for me.”
DIY abortion challenge
‘DIY’ abortions take place by self-administration of a Mifepristone pill, which kills the fetus inside the mother’s womb.
On 30 March 2020, Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, formally approved ‘the home of a pregnant woman’ as a place where Mifepristone can be administered, after being prescribed during a telephone consultation and sent by post.
Recently released government statistics showed that some 32,000 abortions took place partially or entirely at home from April to June.
Christian Concern sought to challenge the government’s controversial decision to allow abortions to take place entirely at home, arguing that it contravened the purpose of the Abortion Act 1967. Last week, the Court of Appeal ruled that the Health Secretary’s decision was lawful, which Christian Concern is appealing to the Supreme Court.
Evidence given to the Court of Appeal in July included full details of an undercover investigation that exposed the service repeatedly crossing legal boundaries.
Evidence also disclosed leaked internal documentation from the NHS revealing maternal deaths, murder investigations and pregnant women experiencing serious medical complications due to the service.
Highly dangerous drug
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Sophie has shown immense courage to tell her story after what she has been through.
“Those running abortion services in England have elevated ideology over women’s safety, and we are seeing the tragic consequences of that.
“We are concerned about how many more of the tens of thousands of women who have accessed this service have had similar traumatic experiences.
“These pills are highly dangerous drugs which should not be handed out at a clinic or posted to women to take at home without proper medical supervision.
“Tragically, vulnerable pregnant women who have used the telemedicine service during UK lockdown to avoid coronavirus have died or experienced serious life-changing complications.
“The DIY abortion service is a dangerous lottery. We call on the Care Quality Commission to urgently analyse its data in order to fully understand and investigate how many more women across the UK have been damaged by this service since it was introduced by the government on 30 March.”
Find out more about DIY abortions