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Scottish Bishops denounce DIY abortion policy in letter to Health Secretary

by | Apr 27, 2020

By SPUC—the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children

Bishops in Scotland have condemned the Scottish government’s decision to allow chemical abortions to be carried out at home amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. In a strongly worded letter, Bishop Hugh Gilbert, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, slammed the abortion regulations as “deeply troubling”.

In a letter penned to Ms. Jeane Freeman, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Bishop Gilbert raised several concerns, including the risk of serious health complications being ignored.  

He also highlighted that there is no way of establishing if women are protected from coercion, especially during this time of quarantine, when there is already an increase in complaints concerning domestic abuse.

A “deeply depressing move”

In the letter penned to Ms. Freeman, Bishop Gilbert said:

“I find the decision of the Scottish Government to allow women experiencing crisis pregnancies to have consultations by phone or video and to make provision for the delivery of abortion medication by post deeply troubling.

“Some important questions about the process arise, such as:

  • Are women receiving information on all available options including details of organisations which can offer support to both the mother and the baby?
  • Is sufficient time given to counselling during the consultation and to explore the potential physical and psychological impact of abortion on women in both the short and long term?
  • Is it appropriate for drugs which end the life of a human being to be sent by post, trivialising what is an extremely serious and life-changing procedure?
  • The drugs provided not only end the life of an unborn child but are also a risk to the health of its mother. Whilst according the April 2019 NICE Draft Guideline, the risk of serious complications is low, the available data refer to medical termination procedures which are normally initiated in the clinic, and where the woman has been kept under clinical observation for 3 hours. The Guideline refers only to women being permitted subsequently to pass the pregnancy at home. There is, even in these circumstances, a real risk of severe bleeding and sepsis in a small number, and a need for further surgery in a larger proportion, depending on the stage of the pregnancy. It is difficult to envisage how the less tangible, but nevertheless real, longer term psychological and mental health complications can be dealt with in an online setting. Vulnerable women in unsatisfactory domestic circumstances are particularly at risk. 

“I believe it is profoundly depressing that in the midst of this unprecedented global pandemic when the resources of almost every government on earth are being diverted towards the preservation of life, especially the lives of the weak and vulnerable, the Scottish Government continues to act to end the lives of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society, the unborn.”

Bishop Gilbert added: “It is of particular concern that there is no way of establishing that a woman is not being coerced into an abortion in the context of a poorly safeguarded online consultation. In the current situation, there is already an increase in complaints about domestic abuse since the Coronavirus restrictions were put in place. It is far from clear how the Scottish Government proposes to set in place the prudent support procedures which permit all the relevant factors in each individual case privately and without coercion.”

Pro-life leaders welcome

The response from the Scottish bishops has been welcomed by SPUC, which is challenging the dangerous DIY abortion policy.

 “The response from Bishop Gilbert highlights the dangerous flaws of the DIY home abortion policy,” Michael Robinson, SPUC Director of Communications said. “It is our view that such a policy is beyond the scope of the Abortion Act and we are studying legal advice on how best to counter this terrible policy, after which we will take appropriate action.”

He added, “The evidence that abortion pills raise the level of complications for women is clear. Our health service does not need the pressure of dealing with emergencies arising from women self-aborting at home.”

Categories: Abortion
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