Scottish Government warned to withdraw ‘unlawful’ abortion pill policy

The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) in Scotland has given the country’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood until 5th January to drop plans to allow DIY at home abortions or be taken to court accused of ‘unlawful practice’.

The challenge follows an announcement by the Scottish Government to allow women to take Misoprostol (the ‘abortion pill’) at home without any clinical support.

Lawyers writing on behalf of SPUC Scotland have stated: “We are of the view that the Regulations are unlawful and effectively act to remove the current stringent medical oversight from the process, thereby endangering the lives of women. We consider that the Regulations are unlawful in that approval of a pregnant woman’s home as a class of place where treatment to terminate pregnancy may take place is too broad a class, thereby not properly constituting a permissible class.

“Secondly, we take the view that the taking of Misoprostol at home outwith the presence of a medical practitioner or other member of clinical staff is not consistent with Section 1 of the Abortion Act 1967.

“It would appear to us that the Regulations proceed upon a misdirection as to the requirements of the 1967 Act and are accordingly unlawful.

“We are writing to you to put you on notice that it is our intention to formally challenge the Regulations should they not be withdrawn within 14 days of the date of this letter.

“Given the Christmas holidays, we will extend this time limit to Friday, 5 January 2018.

“Should we not hear from you by 12 noon that day confirming that you will formally withdraw the Regulations, then we will proceed to raise an action challenging the Regulations without further notice.”

John Deighan, chief executive of SPUC Scotland said: “This is an alarming development for our country and is deeply worrying.  I have already said that the government scheme amounts to authorising backstreet abortions. And that is not being alarmist it is a simple fact. The potential health risks for mothers and their babies are horrific. There would be no medical oversight and this development will result in dreadful threats to women’s health.”

The Catholic Bishops of Scotland recently wrote to the First Minister asking for renewed dialogue on abortion and expressing particular concern about women being able to take Misoprostol at home. The Bishops said that “since abortion is never the answer to a crisis or unwanted pregnancy, making abortion easier ignores the disturbing reality than an innocent human life is ended.”

A recent study by SPUC to mark the 50th anniversary of abortion legislation revealed the “horrific” impact of abortion on the health of women including a catalogue of physical and mental problems linked to terminations.

Research on the impact of abortion has uncovered alarming concerns about women’s health at a time when around 550 abortions take place each day in the UK and the number of abortions carried out since 1968 is fast approaching 9 million.

The SPUC findings include:

  • women are more likely to die from any cause after abortion versus giving birth.
  • suicide is around six times greater after abortion than after childbirth.
  • abortion is associated with significantly higher death rates for women up to ten years after an abortion, compared with women who gave birth
  • women described significant grief three years after abortion.
  • a 30% increased risk of depression and a 25% increased risk of anxiety following abortion
  • women who had abortions experienced mental health disorders 30% more often compared to women who had not had an abortion.
  • depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder are also associated with the subsequent pregnancies of women who have had an abortion.
  • women who have had an abortion are at a higher risk of psychiatric admission compared to women who keep their babies.
  • women having medical abortions may experience hospital admission, blood transfusion, emergency room treatment, administration of IV antibiotics and infection

You can read the full story here at SPUC Scotland’s website.