There has been a significant rise in abortions across England and Wales after the Government relaxed regulations so that women could end their pregnancies at home during the pandemic.
Latest figures from the Department of Health and Social Care out today show that 109,836 abortions were performed for English and Welsh residents in the first half of this year – up 4,296 on the same period in 2019.
It follows a record high of 200,608 abortions in England and Wales for the whole of last year.
The latest rise in abortions follows the Government’s decision to temporarily allow ‘DIY’ abortions at home up to the tenth week of pregnancy.
The changes, introduced after the start of lockdown, made it possible for abortion providers to send pills to pregnant women in the mail after a phone or video consultation with a doctor.
The scheme has been shrouded in controversy, though. A leaked internal email sent by a senior midwife at NHS England and NHS Improvement raised concerns about the “escalating risks” of allowing ‘DIY’ home abortions, and said two women had died after taking abortion pills at home.
The email also revealed that a murder investigation had been launched into the death of a baby born alive after the pills were taken by a woman who was 28 weeks’ pregnant at the time.
The Government is to launch a public consultation on whether to extend the temporary measure.
Right to Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said the latest abortion figures were a “national tragedy” as she called for ‘DIY’ abortions to be “suspended immediately”.
“This year we’ve come together as a nation and made great sacrifices to protect the vulnerable from Covid-19. Sadly, at the very same time as protecting one group of vulnerable people, we as society have also ended thousands of young vulnerable lives through abortion,” she said.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said the “tragic” rise leaves “many unanswered questions”.
“What we do know is that there have been several cases where the service has been abused and caused illegal and late term abortions,” she said.
“Despite the statistics presenting that abortions are taking place earlier, the fact is, nobody knows. BPAS’s Pills by Post scheme has no way of verifying the age of the pre-born baby by ultrasound or even by observing the size of any bump.