Christian Concern's challenge over the government changes to at-home abortion regulations during the Covid-19 lockdown has been rejected by the Court of Appeal.
The group brought legal action against the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) after it changed rules on the process by which terminations can be obtained in light of reduced access to medical facilities during the coronavirus pandemic. The new rules allow women to self-administer medical abortions at home following a phone or video consultation.
Christian Concern says the policy change "went against the purpose of the Abortion Act, which was designed to prevent ‘backstreet abortions’ and to ensure that abortions take place in safe and hygienic conditions".
The Court of Appeal disagreed, with Lady Justice Nicola Davies ruling that the Health Secretary was permitted to “react to changes in medical science” and allow abortions in other settings. “That is exactly what happened in 2020," she added, "a decision was made in the context of a public health emergency arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Davies continued: "The purpose of the 2020 approval was to address a specific and acute medical need, in the context of a public health emergency, so as to ensure the continuance of the protection of the health of women in the context of the 1967 Act.”
Reacting to the judgment, Christian Concern's chief executive said: “The judges refused to hear evidence that would have prevented them from reaching their legal conclusions. The judgment reads like a tortuous attempt to make the Abortion Act say what the judges, service providers and the government want it to say, rather than to uphold its true meaning. We are determined to take this to the Supreme Court to correct this misguided and dangerous policy.
Williams added: “The evidence is clear that DIY abortions are not safe. Women have died. Others have suffered. The process has clearly been abused and used unlawfully.
“We warned from the beginning that allowing DIY abortions on a ‘temporary basis’ would quickly be turned into a permanent measure. Now the government has made this intention clear. We will resist this proposal in the consultation with all of the evidence that we have collected which shows that DIY abortions are harmful and dangerous for women."
“Abortion pills through the post is a system that needs to be stopped immediately and a thorough investigation needs to occur around the legality and practices of the two major abortion providers in the UK.
“We are determined to continue to fight for justice at the Supreme Court.”