Doctors in Scotland are giving women abortion-inducing drugs in hospital before sending them home to have the abortion in a scheme critics have described as “grotesque”.
Before now, women having so-called early medical abortions have been given the drugs and kept in hospital until they are well enough to return home, usually about six hours later.
But under this scheme women are being offered the option of receiving the abortion-inducing drugs and then going straight home.
Critics have accused the scheme of being a cost-cutting measure and warned that it could endanger mothers’ lives.
A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland said: “Clearly abortion involves the taking of life but this also risks endangering the life of the woman – for example through haemorrhaging – and in that sense is doubly disastrous.
“This approach is undoubtedly done on the basis of cost. It is, frankly, grotesque.”
These concerns were shared by Paul Tully, General Secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, who said: “Clearly there are safety issues as these are powerful drugs so the woman should be somewhere where she could get medical help and a blood transfusion quickly.
“In health service management, cost is a dominating factor and there are those who want to promote this as a cheap solution – but it’s a question of providing abortion on the cheap.”
An investigation by the Scottish Daily Mail has revealed that hospitals in Grampian, Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Lothian are now offering women home abortions, and NHS Highland intends to follow suit.
Under the scheme a nurse phones the mother at home to confirm that the abortion has actually taken place.
The law requires all abortions to be carried out on licensed premises, but because doctors are giving the women the abortion-inducing drugs in hospitals they are deemed to be complying.
Health chiefs have defended the scheme.
Dr Kate Guthrie, from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), defended home abortions, saying: “Choice is a good thing.”
“Certainly it’s cheaper than abortions in hospitals but actually women like it and in abortion care it really has to be about choice”, she added.
Last year 13,005 abortions were carried out in Scotland, and 28 per cent of these were carried out on women who had already had at least one termination.
Last week the RCOG released a report which concluded that unborn babies up to 24 weeks old can’t feel pain.
RCOG claimed their report, which contradicted previous research, negated the need to review the UK’s abortion laws.
But despite the report Prime Minister David Cameron continues to favour a reduction in the upper abortion time limit.