MPs push to reinstate in-person abortion appointments

A cross-party group of MPs has called on Parliament to reinstate in-person appointments for women seeking a chemical abortion.

Prior to the pandemic, women seeking an early abortion were required to attend a face-to-face consultation with a medical professional before they could be given abortion pills, which were then taken in a supervised medical environment.

However, pro-abortion activists were successful in a campaign to remove this requirement during lockdown, meaning women less than ten weeks pregnant can procure the pills after just a phone or video consultation, with the pills then posted to them.

Legal safeguards

But 46 MPs have supported an amendment tabled by Conservative Flick Drummond to the Criminal Justice Bill which would ensure any woman seeking an abortion has an in-person consultation before being able to take abortion pills at home.

Drummond said this would enable more accurate assessment of the gestational age of the baby and any potential health risks for the woman, as well as determine whether it might be a coerced abortion.

Their amendment would have prevented the case of Carla Foster, who claimed to be seven weeks pregnant to obtain abortion pills but was actually 32-34 weeks pregnant and was subsequently arrested for the illegal abortion.

The amendment is backed by former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, Labour MP Rachael Maskell and Conservative Maggie Throup, who was the health minister responsible for abortion services when the at-home scheme became permanent.

Public support

There is public support for the amendment, with a poll of 2,000 adults by Whitestone Insight revealing that 71 per cent of women support a return to in-person appointments, while only 9 per cent support maintaining the current rules.

Many medical professionals are also supportive of a change in the law, with over 800 doctors and nurses writing to all MPs to outline the dangers posed by late-term abortions and the need for in-person medical oversight.

It is one of several abortion amendments being considered by MPs in the Criminal Justice Bill, including a pro-life amendment to ban abortion for unborn children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome after the 24-week threshold. This would bring it in line with abortion for most other reasons.

Another, tabled by Caroline Ansell MP, would reduce the time limit for abortions from 24 weeks to 22, in recognition of the fact that more and more babies born before the current limit are surviving.

Sex-selective abortion

Pro-abortion MP Dame Diana Johnson has tabled an amendment to the Government’s Criminal Justice Bill that would allow a woman to take abortion pills up to birth for any reason, without risk of sanction.

But campaign group Stop Gendercide has pointed out that the amendment would open the door for sex-selective abortion. The Government currently states that the unborn child’s sex is not a lawful ground for abortion, but by allowing women to have an abortion for any reason, a mother could abort her unborn baby on the basis of its sex at any time during her pregnancy.

Another poll by Whitestone Insight last month revealed that 55 per cent of adults agreed that abortion should remain illegal after 24 weeks. Only 16 per cent supported decriminalisation, while 29 per cent did not answer.

Also see:

Hand of baby and adult

Poll: Over half of adults oppose decriminalisation of abortion

Woman in Limerick suffers ‘life-threatening’ complication after taking abortion pills

‘Buffer zones pose threat to religious freedom’, pro-lifers warn MSPs

Arizona Supreme Court upholds law protecting ‘countless’ lives from abortion

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