Abortion

Scottish Govt. breaks promise to review safety of home abortion schemes, makes ‘DIY’ abortion permanent

By Right to Life UK 

The Scottish Government has announced that it will be making ‘DIY’ home abortion permanently available without completing an in-depth evaluation of the safety of home abortion schemes – which they were due to report back on in autumn 2022, and despite only 17% of respondents to a national consultation supporting making ‘DIY’ home abortion permanent.

The Scottish Government made a commitment to do an in-depth evaluation of the safety of home abortion schemes, which they were due to report back on in autumn 2022, before making a final decision on the scheme. 

It appears that the Scottish Government has announced the decision without completing the safety review, following pressure from abortion campaigners, including large private abortion providers.

The results of a consultation on whether to make ‘DIY’ home abortions available permanently in Scotland showed that only 17% of submissions supported making ‘DIY’ home abortions available permanently in Scotland.

This strong public opposition to making ‘DIY’ home abortion permanent was also reflected in polling undertaken by Savanta ComRes that shows the overwhelming majority of the general Scottish public, especially women, are concerned about the safety, quality and legal issues arising from ‘DIY’ home abortion.

Over 600 medical professionals have signed an open letter to the Scottish, Welsh and English Governments calling for an end to ‘at-home’ abortion due to concerns that it has led to a number of abortions occurring over the ten-week limit and that it fails to protect women and girls from being coerced into an abortion against their will.

Abortion statistics released by Public Health Scotland show that the number of abortions carried out in Scotland reached the second-highest number on record in 2020.

This significant rise in abortions has accompanied the Scottish Government introducing the temporary measure in March 2020 allowing ‘DIY’ home abortions in Scotland. Since ‘DIY’ home abortions were introduced, a number of significant problems have arisen. 

According to a leaked “urgent email” sent by a regional chief midwife at NHS England and NHS Improvement on the “escalating risks” of ‘DIY’ home abortions, several women attended Emergency Departments for incidents including significant pain and bleeding, ruptured ectopics, and resuscitation for major hemorrhage. The email leak also revealed police opened a murder investigation into the death of a baby who they believe was born alive despite her mother taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills. 

A nationwide undercover investigation found evidence of abortion providers putting women at significant risk by not carrying out basic checks before sending them ‘DIY’ home abortion pills.

Catherine Robinson, spokesperson for Right To Life UK, said: “The Scottish Government has broken its promise to do an in-depth evaluation of the safety of home abortion schemes, which they were due to report back on in autumn 2022, before making a final decision on the scheme.  She wrote

Thousands of women will be put at risk by the Scottish Government’s decision. It appears that the Scottish Government has announced the decision without completing the safety review, following pressure from abortion campaigners. It’s disgraceful for the Scottish Government to put women at risk to appease abortion campaigners.

It is clear from the responses to a consultation run by the Scottish Government that there is very little public appetite for making these dangerous ‘DIY’ abortion services available permanently in Scotland. 

The results of this consultation showed that only 17% of submissions supported making ‘DIY’ home abortions available permanently in Scotland. 61% supported ‘DIY’ home abortion services being ended and 21% submitted alternative suggestions for how to proceed, which they provided in a free-text response. Our analysis of this 21% of the submissions showed that the vast majority of the responses categorized as ‘other’ wanted to either end ‘DIY’ abortion services or introduce more restrictions to abortion services in Scotland.

At-home abortion schemes have been linked to a series of scandals where women have been put at risk by the removal of an in-person consultation. 

study released in November 2021 suggested that more than 10,000 women had to receive hospital treatment following the use of medical abortion pills in England between April 2020 and September 2021.
By removing a routine in-person consultation that allows medical practitioners to certify gestation and recognise potential coercion or abuse, ‘at-home’ abortion has presented serious risks to women and girls in abusive situations. It has allowed severe complications to occur, as well as abortions beyond the legal limit, as abortion providers currently cannot ensure the pills are taken by the intended individual within the appropriate time frame. 

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