Mifepristone, the abortion pill known as RU 486. Picture Credit: James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images

Parliament’s bitter pill

The commons has voted for at home abortion without considering the consequences

Artillery Row

The decision by parliament on Wednesday to make Pills by Post abortions permanent will have dire consequences for women and unborn children in this country. 

Since the service was brought in under the radar at the start of the first lockdown in March 2020, abortion providers have been legally permitted to send out by post the two pills that induce medical abortion.

150,000 women are believed to have used the service and UK abortion rates are now at an all-time high with over 200,000 taking place a year. 

One woman who we supported following a traumatic home abortion has described the process of getting the pills through the post as “easier than getting a takeaway”.

Less than 1-in-5 complications are being reported

The moment to introduce Pills by Post, however, was chosen very carefully: the decision was shuffled into an avalanche of unprecedented drastic measures taken in response to Covid-19, and was released a couple of hours before Boris Johnson’s much trumpeted address to the nation to announce a total lockdown. 

It was meant to pass unnoticed again; but this time it did not, the pro-life movement protested, the government U-turned, and the pro-abortionists had to fight back openly. 

The government then U-turned again and introduced the measure after all, but with assurances that it was temporary and would last no longer than the Covid emergency. This time, it was presented as a relatively insignificant extension of the already established principle that it was safe to take the second pill at home. 

Once in motion, however, extreme abortion policies are difficult to stop. The abortion industry does not sleep, it does not take no for an answer and has access and influence at the heart of our government and medical institutions. 

Their long-term strategy is for abortion on demand for any reason up until birth and they will not stop until they achieve it. 

Their strategy has led to numerous disturbing stories in the media over the past two years. There have been police investigations, stories of the service being abused and women being coerced. There have been FOI investigations that have revealed surges in women having to call 999 for support and thousands of women needing follow-up surgery due to complications. 

An NHS email leak revealed the “escalating risk” surrounding the service and our Mystery Client Investigation exposed a service that was repeatedly crossing legal boundaries and was open to abuse. 

Safety and ethical concerns have been repeatedly raised in parliament, and the government has been forced to admit that it does not hold data on complications women experience. 

Instead, it relies upon data, not from the NHS, but from abortion providers who benefit financially from the telemedicine service.

In June 2021, for example, then health minister, Helen Whately, in response to questions on whether Pills-by-Post is safe, said: “Abortion complications data is collected via the HSA4 abortion notification form. However, it is recognised that the data is limited as not all complications will be known to the practitioner at the time the form is submitted.”

Women and society deserve better than this.

Currently, abortion providers sign the HSA4 form when sending pregnant women abortion pills in the post. This essentially discharges women from their care and means that no complications post-abortion can be reported as provider guidance tells women that they should go to A&E if they experience complications.

These cases are therefore passed to the NHS and cannot be reported to the Care Quality Commission or the government by abortion providers.

As a result, it is believed that less than 1-in-5 complications are being reported.

This has left the government essentially blind to the extent of the complications experienced by women and consistently unable to provide accurate guidance on safety.

Yet still the government has blindly ploughed on with the service and kowtowed to the abortion industry’s message that at home abortion is safe and that “there is nothing to see here.”

Sure enough, the idea that the service would be strictly “temporary” quickly vanished when the government announced a consultation about making the full Pills by Post system permanent. 

All consultations closed in early 2021 and the responses received from members of the public were then kept secret for about a year. 

It was only in the first days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — with everyone’s attention understandably focused on whether World War III had already begun or was to be expected in the near future — that the UK and Welsh governments dropped what could, at a happier time, be described as a series of bombshells: 

  • The Welsh government evaluated the responses using its own original system, whereby responses from those opposed to abortion were simply not counted – on the grounds that abortion is legal. On that basis, Cardiff reported overwhelming support for making pills by post permanent, and has announced that it will be passed into the law in Wales. 
  • In England, using a more conservative system, it transpired that 70% of those consulted wanted the DIY abortion to end immediately. 
  • Pursuant to that, the government extended the permission of home abortions for another six months, but very solemnly promised that after that period, that will really come to an end. 

Yet again, however, the abortion lobby would not take no for an answer. 

Conservative Peer, Baroness Sugg, launched a bid to make Pills by Post abortions a permanent feature of the law in England by amending the Government’s Health and Care Bill. Her amendment was passed in the middle of the night on March 17th by 75 votes to 35 in the House of Lords.

Once put to a vote in the Commons, the outcome was almost a foregone conclusion. So many of our politicians and institutions have been captured and blinded by the culture that says Pills by Post is a solution for women in crisis pregnancies. 

Abortion is not “healthcare” and it is not a solution for women in a crisis pregnancy or for the right to life of their unborn children.  

The vote in parliament yesterday sends a message to women in a crisis that this is the best we can offer you — to have a traumatic and unsafe abortion home, often alone, without any clinical examination or private in-person conversation. Women and society deserve better than this.

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