The Catholic Church in England and Wales has said the UK government's plan to allow women to undergo an abortion at home has diminished the seriousness of such a decision.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock re-instated telemedicine for early medical abortion in England on Monday. It came after pro-choice campaigners complained that thousands of women won't have access to abortion services in clinics or hospitals due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The woman must have had a consultation via telephone or video call with a doctor beforehand - who would have prescribed medicine to terminate the baby within 10 weeks of pregnancy.
The temporary change in law was part of the Coronavirus Bill.
Bishop John Sherrington, lead bishop for life issues for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales said it's a shocking move.
"We understand why the government wishes to keep women away from hospital at this time but are shocked to hear that the Secretary of State for Health plans to introduce temporary measures to allow telemedicine and early DIY abortion at home without any medical supervision present,” he said in a statement.
Bishop John sides with legal group Christian Concern and pro-life charity Right to Life who are furious that the decision came without any public consultation, parliamentary scrutiny or debate.
He added: "These measures fundamentally change access to abortion in England and Wales for the foreseeable future. Whilst these are emergency times, these measures further endanger women who, for example, are rushed into decisions by abusive partners and act without any proper consultation.
"They diminish the seriousness with which these decisions should be taken and the physical and psychological dangers of the administration of these drugs at home."
The Catholic Church has asked for the government to publish a time limit "as it has done for other emergency legislation".
The Church also vowed to take a stand against the new measures.
"Along with all those who cherish and uphold the value of human life, the Church will be vigilant to see that these measures, if introduced, are rescinded as soon as possible so that the present, albeit unsatisfactory, law is followed," Bishop John said.
British Pregnancy Advisory Service has praised the government for the move and said "this will prevent tens of thousands of women from having to travel needlessly to clinics and will also enable many of our healthcare professionals to provide teleconsultations and prescriptions from the safety of their own homes."