Commons must listen to child safeguarding concerns and reject at-home abortion

Last month, the Government announced their very welcome decision to bring ‘at-home’ abortion, where both sets of abortion pills can be taken at home without medical supervision, to an end later this year.

As the Government has said, ‘at-home’ abortion was never intended to be a permanent measure, rather it was an emergency response to an unprecedented crisis impacting NHS services. The Government has rightly deemed it appropriate for pre-pandemic abortion arrangements that will be restored and reinstated this August, now that the NHS is free from the pressure of the pandemic.

Despite a broad public, however, consultationSurprisingly, 70% of the 18,000 respondents wanted that the policy be ended immediately, Baroness Sugg, along with a small group Peers, decided to table a late night, last-minute resolution. amendment at Report Stage of the Health and Care Bill to make ‘at-home’ abortion a permanent measure. Well after midnight, it passedWith just over a seventh voting, there were only 40 votes.

Whatever your opinion on abortion, an amend introduced in the final stages of Health and Care Bill and discussed in the early hours in the non-elected House in the early morning is not the best way to make major changes in long-standing, sensitive legislation. 


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MineIt was one of a number. politicalAnd medicalVoices calling for an end of this dangerous policy that put the safety and health of women and girls at high risk of domestic abuse, coercion and untreated medical complications. To add to previous concerns raised by myself and others, as the House of Commons comes to consider this ‘at-home’ abortion amendment on Wednesday, we would do well to listen to the substantial and serious safeguarding concerns raised by the National Network of Designated Healthcare Professionals for Children (NNDHP) in recent weeks.

The NNDHP is made up of all senior NHS nurses and doctors who perform statutory child-safeguarding functions in the NHS., welcomed the Government announcement of ‘at-home’ abortion coming to an end on the basis that this now meant “children and young people will be provided with pre-Covid protections within six months”.

They recommended that in their position statement regarding the decision they recommend that “all children and young people (those under 18 or those in care under 25) must be seen face to face… to clinically assess the mid-trimester risk and prevent coercion and exploitation”. The NNDHP is indeed a valid option. “support safe abortion services for the young and looked after”They have “very real concerns about the harm the temporary arrangements have had due to the lack of face-to-face assessment for this age group”.

NNDHP are particularly concerned that virtual consultations could be both harmful and inhumane. “enable unseen And unheard coercive adults to influence the patient” and “enable pills to be obtained under false pretences”.

They also argue that young people and children are more susceptible to the traumatizing effects of mid-trimester abortions via telemedical programs, which they are aware “have led to live births of very premature but potentially viable infants”. Stories of abortions were allowed very quickly after the temporary policy was implemented. occuring beyond the legal and safe 10-week limit began to appear, including the case of a baby being aborted at 28 weeks – far beyond the legal limit for surgical, let alone medical abortions. 

The worrying consequences of ‘at-home’ abortion for children and young people have also been recognisedRoyal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. Their recent statement on the matter recommends that all children and youth under the age 18 and looked after children until the age 25 be included. “offered and actively encouraged to take up a face-to-face appointment to assess gestation, support their holistic needs and assess any safeguarding issues as part of the pathway for early medical abortions.”

Given the emergence of credible safeguarding concerns and the pre-existing risks of undetected domestic abuse and coercion, Baroness Sugg’s ‘at-home’ abortion amendment can give no guarantee of safety or security for young women and girls across the country. It must be rejected this Wednesday.