A temporary policy of allowing women to order abortion pills through the post and have an abortion at home will become permanent, after a vote in Parliament.
The scheme was already controversial when it was brought in provisionally to cover the Covid crisis, when lockdown meant women could not get to abortion clinics.
But now MPs have voted to make it permanent, despite concerns about women’s safety and the inevitable rise in the number of abortions.
MPs voted 215 to 188 in favour of Baroness Sugg’s amendment to the Health and Care Bill.
Over 70 Conservative MPs voted with Labour and other members to ensure that at-home early medical abortion will be maintained.
This is despite several freedom of information reports and medical testimonies as to the unsafe nature of allowing women to perform their own abortions.
In addition, women’s rights groups have warned of the lack of safeguarding and protection for mothers who could be coerced into having an abortion.
Pro-life groups, including the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, highlighted the figures since the scheme came into effect.
A statement from SPUC said the government had ‘ignored the evidence that 10,000 women have needed further hospital treatment after accessing this service’.
And campaign group Right to Life called this ‘the largest change to abortion legislation since 1967’.
It warned the vote ‘would likely lead to the loss of many more lives to abortion, along with having a strong negative impact on the physical and emotional health of women’.
Catherine Robinson, spokesperson for the group, said, ‘The MPs who have voted for this amendment have voted to remove vital safeguards including an in-person appointment with a medical professional.
‘This will put thousands more women at risk from ‘DIY’ home abortion services.’
Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said, ‘This vote will have dire consequences for women, who will not receive the proper medical support they need and more easily be coerced by partners and family members.’
She added the vote sent ‘a message to women in crisis pregnancies that this is the best we can offer you – to have a traumatic and unsafe abortion at home, often alone, without any clinical examination or private in-person conversation’.
The vote means the 1967 Abortion Act will be amended, bringing England into line with Wales, which recently decided to make the scheme permanent. Scotland plans to do the same.