Abortion has moved from backstreets to wards — and
now to people's bathrooms, reports Christina White HUNDREDS of women in Britain are aborting their babies at home using a controversial and possibly illegal procedure promoted by Britain's leading private abortion provider.
Delegates at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service's "Advances in Abortion" conference in London last week were told that the combined use of the abortion pill RU486 with the drug misoprostol enabled women to abort at home, making terminations "accessible".
Until now, women have been monitored in clinics for up to six hours after receiving misoprostol which is administered two days after the abortion pill.
Under the new procedure women are given RU486 and then return to the clinic two days later to be given misoprostal as a pessary. Doctors then decide if they are fit enough to go home. Some 700 women have left BPAS clinics and aborted babies at home in the past year.
Misoprostal was developed to treat stomach ulcers and is not licensed for gynaecological use, but doctors have found that it induces spontaneous abortion.
Ann Furedi, a director of the BPAS, told the conference: "We have allowed women the choice of whether to stay in the clinic after the pill or go home to miscarry (sic) in the privacy and relative comfort of their own homes."
The BPAS has confirmed that the "logical" extension of the scheme would be to allow women to take misoprostol at home, a change which would take abortion out of the medical environment and require changes to the 1967 Abortion Act.
The pro-life movement has called on the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to intervene and ban the use of the drug.
Peter Garrett of Life said the scheme was deeply irresponsible and said groups would be raising questions in Parliament about the legality of the procedure, which may contravene the Abortion Act.
He said he believed Ms Furedi had acted "ultra vires". He said "She has gone beyond her remit. The problem is that abortion is now so much part of the establishment that the BPAS thinks it can act with impunity. This is a sympton of a much deeper malaise. It shows clearly how mainstream the pro-abortion position has become in our society.
"Parliament itself should be the decision-making body on abortion-related issues. It must not be dominated and overshadowed by an out-of-control provider. They are counselling women to go home and use a drug unsupervised and without medical assistance."
He added: "The faster you make your conveyor belts — the greater the problems. We saw this in Manchester after the Marie Stopes clinic introduced lunchtime abortion; our post-abortion trauma network was inundated with calls, women suffered."
Paul Tully of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said the numbers of women opting for "at home" abortion raised serious concerns about the "service" that abortion clinics offer.
He said: "This news suggests that women feel poorly cared for at abortion clinics. Women could be choosing home-based abortion because the facilities and the attitude of staff at abortion clinics mean that they would rather endure what can be a traumatic sequence of events on their own."