A policy to allow home abortions during the coronavirus outbreak has been slammed by pro-life groups, with the decision now set to face a judicial review.
The policy came about after series of u-turns by the Conservative government. As the country went into lockdown due to Covid-19, women and girls wanting to terminate an early pregnancy were initially told that the service would be available at home.
The initial decision was swiftly retracted, on the advice of many medical and ethical campaigners. But a few days later, the government overturned its retraction and gave the go-ahead to have do-it-yourself abortions at home.
Before the lockdown, women seeking an early-term termination had to take abortion drugs at a clinic so that they could be monitored by trained staff.
However, the spread of the coronavirus meant women would be exposing themselves to the disease if they visited a clinic.
So the decision was taken to allow females to take two pills at home instead of going to a clinic, to avoid exposure to the coronavirus.
The decision has been met with horror, raising questions of ethics and what happens if the pills do not work as intended and the expectant mother faces a medical emergency.
Pro-life campaigners told The Daily Telegraph the emergency guidance was ‘scandalous’ and tantamount to ‘do-it-yourself abortions’.
They said it marks the biggest change in abortion policy since the 1967 Abortion Act first made killing unborn babies legal in the UK.
Originally, when the legislation was first legally signed off by Mark Davies, director of population health, it was pulled just hours later, claiming an ‘administrative error’.
Health secretary Matt Hancock stated in parliament, ‘There will be no changes to abortion regulation,’ while Lord Bethell told the House of Lords he rejected the proposed changes to the abortion law.
He said, ‘Do we really want to support an amendment that could remove the only opportunity many women have, often at a most vulnerable stage, to speak confidentially and one-to-one with a doctor about their concerns on abortion and about what the alternatives might be?’
And yet the government went against its own warnings and made the change without due process.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said, ‘At a time of national and global crisis, to be pushing through a back-door policy that will put thousands of women at risk is dangerous and chilling.’