On the UK government’s plan to end “medical” abortion at home

by John Smeaton

Following a powerful grassroots campaign led by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), the British government has announced that the temporary measure allowing women to take both the first and second doses of the “medical” abortion at home will end at midnight on 29 August 2022. However, the Department of Health and Social Care has said that it will keep the situation “under review” and British pro-life campaigners, led by SPUC, will be deploying all their resources to persuade parliamentarians and the UK government not to succumb to the pro-abortion lobby’s pressure to perform a U-turn and to re-introduce the measure on a permanent basis in six months’ time.

Why sound such a cautious note after an important pro-life victory? Recent history provides the reason:

At the end of March 2020, the Secretary of State for Health & Social Care approved temporary measures in England, to permit so-called “telemedicine abortion”, in which abortifacient pills are sent through the post, following a telephone consultation, and taken in private, without medical assistance.

Barely a week earlier the government had announced that it was forbidding such a procedure, echoing precisely the concerns raised by SPUC in its lobbying of Parliament. Lord Bethel, a parliamentary under-secretary of State in the Department of Health and Social Care, said in a debate in Parliament:

“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? The bottom line is that, if there is an abusive relationship and no legal requirement for a doctor’s involvement, it is far more likely that a vulnerable woman could be pressured into have an abortion by an abusive partner.”

Why did Boris Johnson’s government perform this U-turn? 

The simple answer is that they succumbed to the pro-abortion lobby, which included the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

These medical bodies might naturally be expected to provide policy-makers with wise, impartial advice on matters relating to pregnancy care and to carry weight with parliamentarians and government officials.

However, two of the five authors of the RCOG’s guidance on Covid-19 and abortion “care” were leading officers of two of the most militant abortion-providing organisations of our day: Dr Jonathan Lord, Medical Director of Marie Stopes UK and Dr Patricia Lohr, Medical Director of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS).

The RCM has a shameful history of removing restrictions on abortion, with its president, Cathy Warwick, in 2017, backing a campaign for the full decriminalisation of abortion up to birth.

Now these same bodies, amplified by the mass media, are raising a massive hue and cry in protest against the government’s ending its temporary “medical” abortion measure in six months’ time.

Needless to say, SPUC, the first pro-life body established anywhere in the world, has long experience of such opposition and will not be resting on its laurels bearing in mind the Government’s capitulation to the pro-abortion lobby on this issue two years ago.