Self-isolating women beg PM to change abortion rules after department u-turn

Women who are self-isolating and need an abortion have begged the Prime Minister to enable them to take abortion pills at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

One woman, a high-risk individual due to her previous medical history and asthma, said she has been left in a dire situation after her hopes were raised by the Government earlier this week.

On Monday the Department of Health said it would allow women and girls to take abortion pills at home, and for doctors to prescribe from their homes.

Just hours later it was removed from the department’s website, with officials saying it was “published in error”.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock later told MPs abortion rules will not be changed as part of the response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The woman said: “Without provision of measures like this, I will either risk myself to Covid-19 while attempting to make my way to an appointment, have to resort to illegal practices outside of the healthcare system or keep the pregnancy for longer which is harmful both to me and the child as it grows and develops.”

Another young woman said the only option open to her is having an early medical abortion at home.

It comes as Women on Web, an international organisation that provides abortion care online, has reported an increase in “heartbreaking” Covid-19-related pleas from the UK.

The woman said: “This way of abortion is the only route I have as I am not allowed out due to the coronavirus.

“My parents would disown me and kick me out if they were to find out or they may even harm me and I have so much ahead of me.

“I cannot afford to have a child right now at such a young age with no financial help as the person whom I conceived the child with is no longer in my life.

“I beg you to please help me, this is my only option. Please help me.”

Another woman, whose daughter is vulnerable, added: “Given the severity of the situation and the current health advice there must be some type of provision for accessing the treatment without the need to physically attend the clinic.”

The British Advisory Pregnancy Service said services are at breaking point, with a quarter of its clinics closed, and estimates around 500 women a day are making unnecessary journeys for treatment.

Dr Jonathan Lord, co-chair of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Abortion Taskforce, said there were “widespread” reports of women being denied care.

He said: “It seems extraordinary how government advice is, quite rightly, to isolate in order to contain the spread of the virus – unless you are a woman requiring essential health care, in which case the Government will force you to go on a completely unnecessary journey to a crowded clinic or hospital.

“I simply cannot understand why the Government is behaving in such a cruel and reckless manner towards women’s health.

“To force women to have to come out of self-isolation, mix with others in waiting rooms – and in many NHS waiting areas, distancing is impossible – and potentially infect others and NHS staff is quite extraordinarily irresponsible.”

Ann Furedi, bpas chief executive, said: “Services are already buckling and at risk of collapse.

“Women are not getting the care they need. The Prime Minister needs to listen and act on the scientific evidence.”