At-home abortions amid coronavirus lockdown will cause ‘serious harm,’ UK expert warns

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A medical expert is sounding the alarm about at-home abortions, as many around the world are not able to go to a doctor or abortion clinic due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the United Kingdom, the Department of Health and Social Care recently changed regulations to allow abortions to be performed at the "home of a pregnant woman," as long as COVID-19 persists, using Facetime, Skype or other telemedicine tools.

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But Dr. Gregory Gardner, an honorary clinical lecturer at the University of Birmingham, opposed the temporary practice, saying standards of care and counseling are especially critical during this time.

"The introduction of home abortions as proposed (notwithstanding the presence of a COVID-19 pandemic) is a policy that is more likely than not to depart from the essential tenets of duty of care through proper clinical assessment, thereby raising the risk of serious injury and harm being done to women self-administering Mifepristone and Misoprostol at home," Gardner wrote.

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Outside the risks of infection, hemorrhage, psychological trauma, risk of future preterm birth and breast cancer, Gardner explained that there is an increased risk of coercion.

"It will be difficult if not impossible to verify by phone or video whether a woman is undergoing any kind of duress to have an abortion," he explains. "There does not seem to have been any consideration given to this in the proposed change in policy. There will be women who need delicate counseling to discover coercion or other forms of abuse.”

Ann Widdecombe, a former government minister in the U.K., is backing a judicial review of the change, noting that when the Abortion Act was passed in 1990 they assured it would not be used to legalize self-administered abortion pills at home.

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Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, is asking the British government to urgently repeal the legislation.

“The U.K. government is going to extraordinary lengths to protect lives due to the threat of Covid-19. It appears to fail to see the irony in opening up access to abortion and counting the lives that will be lost as a result of such action," Williams told Fox News. "If this practice goes unchallenged, there will be no going back and that is tragic for women and their children."

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In the U.S., different states have struggled with keeping abortion clinics open.

A federal appeals court ruled against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and allowed keeping medication abortions, and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer argued that they are necessary as part of "life-sustaining" health care.