Calls for Government to reinstate in-person abortion appointments, not introduce abortion up to birth, after 8-month abortion case

By Right to Life UK

A woman has been “plagued by nightmares and flashbacks” to seeing the face of her baby, Lily, whom she aborted at eight months gestation using illegally-obtained abortion pills.

Carla Foster, 44, used the British Pregnancy Advisory Service’s (BPAS) “pills by post” scheme to obtain abortion pills during lockdown when she was 32-34 weeks pregnant. Abortion is available in the UK up to 24 weeks gestation, but ‘DIY’ at-home abortion (when pills are posted to the woman after a telephone consultation) is only available up to 10 weeks. 

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard how Ms. Foster told BPAS in a telephone consultation that she was seven weeks and four days pregnant, despite her online search history indicating she knew she was already in her third trimester, and messages on her phone that indicated she had known of her pregnancy for about three months on  February 1, 2020, before COVID lockdown measures were introduced. 

On May 11, 2020, having taken the abortion pills that were posted to her by BPAS, without an in-person appointment or scan, Ms. Foster’s daughter, Lily, was stillborn shortly before 7pm that evening. A post-mortem examination confirmed that baby Lily was between 32-34 weeks’ gestation at the time and that there was no sign of natural disease or trauma that could explain her death. Ms. Foster has been sentenced to 28 months imprisonment, with half of this sentence spent in custody.

BPAS lobbied for in-person appointments to be removed despite evidence that these could result in late-term abortions taking place at home

In-person appointments had previously been required ahead of a medical abortion taking place, but BPAS successfully lobbied the Government to have them removed during the pandemic.

It then became clear that women were not accurately estimating their gestation at home, along with a number of other safeguarding issues arising with at-home abortion schemes. 

Medical professionals70% of respondents to a Government consultation and MPs, including Miriam Cates who specifically mentioned risks around inaccurate gestational estimates, called for a reinstatement of in-person appointments. The Government then decided to reinstate in-person appointments.

BPAS then joined prominent pro-abortion MPs to support an amendment to the Health and Care Bill that passed by a narrow margin of 27 votes to overturn the Government’s decision to reinstate these appointments.

BPAS shirking responsibility and calling for abortion up to birth to be introduced

Rather than take responsibility for sending out abortion pills 22 weeks beyond the legal limit for at-home abortions and risking the health of the mother as well as her unborn child, BPAS is now cynically using this woman’s tragic experience of using its abortion service to lobby the Government and MPs to introduce abortion up to birth throughout the United Kingdom.

In England and Wales, this would involve repealing sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act along with the Infant Life Preservation Act

As the Abortion Act 1967 was passed to create exemptions to 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act along with the Infant Life Preservation Act, repealing this legislation would make the Abortion Act 1967 redundant in England and Wales. 

This change in law would scrap the current 24-week time limit for abortion, and abortion would be available on demand, for any reason, up to birth. The upper time limit would be completely abolished.

Abortion provider BPAS, which has been campaigning for this law change, has made it explicit that it is campaigning to remove all gestational time limits for abortion.

This position was affirmed by its then CEO, Ann Furedi, who at the launch of the campaign to ‘decriminalise’ abortion stated, “I want to be very, very clear and blunt … there should be no legal upper limit”.

This proposal is completely out of line with where women stand on the issue. Polling from Savanta ComRes on whether time limits for abortion should be increased showed that only 1% of women in Great Britain wanted the time limit to be extended to more than 24 weeks and 1% wanted it to be increased right through to birth, in contrast to 70% of women who favored a reduction in time limits.

Calls for in-person appointments to be reinstated

Right To Life UK is calling for the reinstatement of in-person appointments before all abortions take place to ensure that the gestation of babies can accurately be assessed, along with a full inquiry into the abortion provider, BPAS, for sending out abortion pills to a woman whose baby was at least 32 weeks gestation, which is 22 weeks beyond the legal limit for at-home abortions, without conducting an in-person consultation to accurately determine the gestation of the baby. 

The case would not have happened had the gestation of baby Lily been accurately identified by ultrasound or a physical examination during an in-person appointment. If this appointment had taken place, the gestation of the baby would have been accurately identified and abortion could not have taken place.

Public shocked by 32-week abortion

There has been shock expressed by a large number of people online, many of whom hold a pro-choice position on abortion, regarding the abortion of baby Lily taking place when she was at 32 weeks gestation.

Michelle Dewberry, who is pro-choice, said that procuring a late-term abortion at 32-34 weeks isn’t ‘healthcare’. She shared a picture of her son when he was born at 31 weeks and who is now a happy toddler.

Allison Pearson pointed out that the baby could have easily lived unaided outside the womb and said that no one should have the right to abort a baby at 32 weeks gestation.

Sophie Corcoran, who was born at 28 weeks, said that she believes abortion is necessary in some cases but that “abortion at 32/34 weeks” is not healthcare.

Nick Dixon spoke on GB News last night about BPAS’ culpability, saying “BPAS … sent her these pills in the post, which was completely irresponsible – medically and legally – because it’s dangerous but also she could have faced life imprisonment … BPAS now, though, are saying it’s shocking and appalling … so they’re sort of doubling down in order to distract from what they’ve done which is an extraordinary sort of medical malpractice”.

Dr. Hilary Jones MBE, a GP, was interviewed on Good Morning Britain today about the case and said “Clearly, this woman needed professional help, she needed counselling, she needed support, she needed guidance at a very, very difficult time for her … the bottom line is that this child was born at a time when it could have been living independently … premature babies can survive from 26 [weeks], even younger, and this child would have been 32 weeks, 34 weeks, somewhere around that period.”

He continued “I rue the fact that she was sent pills in the post … based on what she said, and these pills … should be used under close medical supervision”. Babies have been born as early as 21 weeks and have gone on to survive, with the chances of survival increasing week-by-week due to technical advances, better healthcare planning and the increased use of steroids.

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said “We are calling for the reinstatement of in-person appointments before abortions take place to ensure that the gestation of babies can accurately be assessed. 

“We are also calling for a full inquiry into the abortion provider, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, for sending out abortion pills to a woman whose baby, Lily, was 22 weeks beyond the legal limit for at-home abortions.

“The Government must firmly reject changing legislation to make abortion legal right up to birth, as is proposed by abortion campaigners, led by BPAS, who are using this tragic case to call for the removal of more abortion safeguards and the introduction of abortion up to birth across the United Kingdom.

“At at least 32 weeks or around 8 months gestation, Baby Lily was a fully formed human child. If her mother had been given an in-person appointment by BPAS, she would still be alive.

“Rather than take responsibility for sending out abortion pills 22 weeks beyond the legal limit for at-home abortions and risking the health of the mother as well as her unborn child, this same abortion provider, BPAS, is now cynically exploiting this woman’s tragic experience of using its abortion service to lobby the Government to introduce abortion up to birth.”