'At-home' abortions - a disservice to women

Precious Life’s latest ACTION ALERT is calling on people to contact their MLAs and say “No to Death by Post" for unborn babies in Northern Ireland.

There has been a great response, and we urge you to contact your MLAs todays if you haven’t done so.

Our Assembly members and their Party’s ministers in the Stormont Executive must oppose any proposal to send abortion pills by post to homes in Northern Ireland – not only because of the babies that will be killed, but also the serious dangers they will cause to women.

The BBC reported that NI Health Minister Robin Swann had proposed quickly commissioning a so-called "early medical abortion service” where women would be posted abortion pills to take at home.

These “at-home abortions” would allow babies to be killed in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy

Measures to allow ‘at-home’ abortions during the Coronavirus pandemic were introduced in England, Scotland, and Wales over a year ago

In a recent article for “The House” magazine, Carla Lockhart MP said these ‘at-home’ abortion are a disservice to women

She gave frightening statistics on a range of issues women and girls have experienced from home abortions. Carla Lockhart said there must be an urgent government review of Westminster’s at-home abortion policy (and attempts to implement a similar policy in Northern Ireland) - “It is time for the government to follow the evidence and end this disastrous temporary policy.”

There was no public consultation or adequate parliamentary scrutiny on these measures. Legalising the taking of both abortion pills at home, unsupervised, following just a telephone consultation typifies poor clinical practice. Abortion providers cannot ensure that the pills they prescribe are taken within the appropriate time frame, increasing the risk of severe complications and late abortions.

And an accurate diagnosis of age is not possible without an in-person assessment. So the abortion providers cannot ensure that the pills they prescribe are taken within the appropriate time frame, increasing the risk of severe complications and late abortions.

And because it is impossible to ensure the woman is on her own during a phone consultation, this policy has increased the risk of women being coerced into an abortion.

A leaked NHS email has revealed several incidents of women accessing emergency departments following home abortions for ruptured ectopic pregnancies, resuscitation for major haemorrhage, and ‘significant pain’. The email also mentions a murder investigation over a ‘concern that the baby was live born’, as well as a case regarding a woman sent abortion pills who was found to be 22 weeks beyond the legal limit for home abortion in England and Wales. Reports of a police investigation into the death of an unborn baby at 28 weeks gestation related to the pills-by-post abortion service (alongside eight other cases under investigation by BPAS) also made headlines.

Recent data requests reveal that an average of 36 women a month in England and Wales made 999 calls after experiencing complications from ‘at-home’ abortion pills. A recent Sky News documentary on the scheme stated that “5% of women who have at-home abortions will suffer complications that may need follow-up treatment or surgery”. Such complications present an even greater threat to women in rural areas where access to emergency healthcare is more challenging.

A nurse who experienced extreme complications from an ‘at-home’ abortion that required follow-up surgery expressed her shock that “the UK, with all of our research and expertise, would approve this… it just feels like we are going backwards and that… covid is an excuse to not treat women with respect”.

Recent polling demonstrated the overwhelming majority of women and GPs remain anxious about ‘at-home’ abortion. In England, 86% of women expressed concern about the risk of women being coerced into an abortion during the ‘at-home’ abortion process, and 83% were concerned about abortion pills being falsely obtained for another person. Similar results were revealed by polling in Scotland.

Removing these safeguards is especially concerning considering the potential for abortion coercion. Indeed, a staggering 7% of British women have been pressured into an abortion by their husband or partner. Surely these women deserve to be afforded full protection under the law? Yet rather than safeguarding their liberties, ‘pills-by-post’ heavily decreases the chance of detecting whether a woman or girl is in an abusive situation.


The abortion pill kills the baby by cutting off blood and nourishment. Then the pill causes the woman severe cramping, contractions with heavy bleeding, and forces the dead baby out of her womb. She can lose her baby anytime and anywhere (even down the toilet) during this intense and painful process which can last from a few hours to several days. At least 22 women have died from haemorrhage, toxic shock, sepsis, organ failure and ruptured ectopic pregnancy following an early abortion with these pills.






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