The Free Church of Scotland has submitted a response to a consultation from the Scottish Government with respect to future arrangements for Early Medical Abortion at Home.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic last March, the Scottish Government allowed certain women to take both pills required for an early medical abortion (mifepristone and misoprostol) in their own homes after a telephone or video consultation with a doctor or nurse, without the need to first attend a hospital or clinic for an in-person appointment. The Government consultation aims to canvas opinion as to whether this process should continue.
The Free Church is deeply concerned about the practice of abortions at home. As Christians we believe all human beings have inherent worth and value, having been made in the image of God. We also believe it is right for the church to speak up on issues such as abortion provision and to strive for a more just society. Proverbs 31:8-9 tells us to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
As a church, we are concerned about the rights of the unborn child and believe more needs to be done to protect the child in the womb. We do not therefore share the State’s view as to when abortion is permissible; indeed, we believe that there are few circumstances in which it is justified. Although we recognise that is beyond the scope of this consultation.
However, as well as being concerned about the rights of the child we are also deeply concerned about the health and wellbeing of any woman who finds herself considering abortion or having to self-administer abortion in her home. We want processes that show compassion to women in these circumstances and which protect them from the huge medical risks inherent in these proposals.
Our response to the consultation outlines the many reasons why abortions at home are inherently less safe and open to abuse. The likelihood of undue pressure and abuse being applied to women is increased. There are more risks of complications and significant ongoing psychological risks. We also see the potential for abuse where abortion pills could be prescribed to one individual who then gives them to another.
It is not possible to mitigate these many risks and accordingly, home abortion is not appropriate. It is noteworthy that when the Abortion Act 1967 was introduced in the UK it was to protect women from the risks associated with abortions away from a health care setting. The move towards home abortions is therefore a backwards step introducing increased risks to women who deserve the best possible care which requires face-to-face contact.
Our full response to the consultation can be read here.
Scottish Government's Consultation: https://consult.gov.scot/population-health/early-medical-abortion-at-home/