Crisis-pregnancy care charity LIFE has issued the following statement following today's announcement that BPAS are seeking to legalise the home-administration of early medical abortion:
‘If successful, BPAS will have succeeded in putting abortion back behind closed doors. The whole point of the 1967 Abortion Act was to ensure that abortion was as safe as possible for women. If women are encouraged to administer their own abortions at home, there will be no way of monitoring their safety.
‘Clearly, BPAS' intention is to increase access to abortion yet further, by making it little more than a pill-popping exercise. This has shifted the debate away from whether or not a woman has an abortion at all, simply to how and where she does it.
‘There are other responses to crisis pregnancy. LIFE offers the kind of help that can be a lifeline, providing space to think, free from outside pressures - counselling and support for anyone distressed by an unplanned pregnancy, specialist supported accommodation for women made homeless through pregnancy, practical help with baby equipment and financial assistance.
‘Women deserve more support and information than they will get if the BPAS challenge is successful. Women may not be prepared for how they might feel - especially if abortion seems like an easy, one-step process. We are glad the Department of Health are contesting the BPAS case - women should be supervised in clinics for the second stage of medical abortions, where they can have access to the medical and emotional assistance they may need.
‘Almost all women taking this drug experience abdominal cramping and many suffer nausea and diarrhoea. It can be a frightening time, particularly for younger women. Often they will go through the procedure completely alone, at home, and always have the reminder of what they've been through around them.
‘Department of Health guidelines specify that dignity and respect should be shown to foetal tissue and that it shouldn't simply be discarded. Home abortions mean that women are expected to deal with this aspect of abortion themselves, which is contrary to existing guidelines and which can be a highly traumatic experience for women.'
'Furthermore, BPAS would have us believe that early medical abortion poses such a negligible risk to health that women don't need medical care during the process. However, incomplete or failed abortions require surgery and other problems associated with bleeding are not rare.'
‘The psychological and physical health of women will be compromised should this High Court challenge succeed. It will make it difficult to monitor the short-term effects of early medical abortion, and the long-term effects are as yet unknown. But perhaps most importantly, it fails to acknowledge and promote other responses to unplanned or crisis pregnancy which are truly in the interests of women.'
For further comment from a LIFE Media Officer please call 07867 744502.