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Judicial review granted over DIY ‘at home’ abortions

August 2020

The Court of Appeal has reversed the decision of the High Court to reject Christian Concern’s legal challenge against the legalisation of DIY abortions.

In the order published, Lord Justice Lewison ruled it was ‘arguable’ that the Health Secretary Matt Hancock exceeded his powers under the 1967 Abortion Act when he designated ‘a pregnant woman’s home’ as a permissible place for abortion.

Christian Concern brought a legal challenge against the government for permitting so-called DIY abortions during lockdown. The argument gained traction when a woman over the 24-week legal limit was able to procure the self-administered Mifepristone pill and killed her unborn baby. Her actions are being investigated.

Christian Concern’s legal challenge was initially rejected by the High Court. However, the Court of Appeal has reversed that decision and granted permission for judicial review.

Lawyers for Christian Concern argue that Mr Hancock had no power under the 1967 Abortion Act to authorise home abortions. Only Parliament could change the law, which is that abortions may only take place in NHS hospitals and approved clinics.

The lawyers also argue that permitting DIY abortions outside of hospitals and clinics frustrates the purpose of the Abortion Act, which is to prevent ‘backstreet abortions’.

Lord Justice Lewison has concluded Christian Concern’s arguments deserve to be heard, and the Court of Appeal will hold a public hearing to decide whether Mr Hancock’s decision should be quashed.