Home abortion challenge rejected

01 Sep 2018

Scotland is the first part of the UK to allow women to take the abortion drug Misoprostol at home instead in a clinical setting under the supervision of medical staff. Misoprostol is the second pill used in medical abortions and it causes heavy cramping and bleeding as the fetus is expelled from the womb.

Following the licensing of Misoprostol for home use, SPUC (The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) challenged the decision at the Court of Session on two grounds: firstly, that the 1967 Abortion Act states specific rules about in which places abortions can take place and SPUC's legal advice stated that the abortion law “was not intended to allow abortions to take place at home” (As quoted by SPUC). Secondly, the Abortion Act states that medical, nursing or clinical staff must be present when taking an abortion causing drug and thus, allowing women to take abortion pills at home is not consistent with this law.

However, Lady Wise dismissed the arguments of SPUC's appeal stating: "It seems to me that patients who self- administer medication at home may still be described as being treated by their medical practitioner, who remains in charge of that treatment....I have concluded that the decision of the respondents to approve a woman's home as a place where one stage of the termination of pregnancy can be carried out is not unlawful on either of the grounds contended for by the petitioner." (As quoted by the BBC)

After the decision, Chief Executive of SPUC Scotland, John Deighan commented saying: “We are extremely disappointed that our concerns have not been upheld.....We maintain the belief that our arguments convincingly exposed the unlawfulness of the actions taken by the Scottish Government which are in contravention of the law.....We will give thorough consideration of the judgement but at the forefront of our thoughts is the expectation that we will appeal the decision. (As quoted by the BBC) We owe it to our supporters who continue to make donations to cover our legal costs. Discussions have already started with our legal representatives.....Our position remains the same despite this judgement......For the sake of women’s health and the universal right to life we cannot stand idly by whilst such a detrimental measure is implemented in the name of health care.....The abortion pill policy trivialises the terrible ordeal that medical abortion inflicts on women and it can now do so in an environment where women self- administer powerful drugs with no proper medical supervision or support.....We continue to be alarmed at the Scottish Government’s policies to liberalise abortion, this is hard to square with their other commitments on health and human rights......The effect of so many decades of propaganda and emotional manipulation has clouded the judgment of so many people when it comes to abortion. It is outside the realms of reason to uphold universal human rights on the one hand and then make laws to permit the ending of innocent human lives on the other.....The neglect of the damage that abortion has on women is reprehensible and will one day demand an answer as to why it has been allowed to go on so long. The lax attitude towards abortion has also allowed widespread coercion of women to have abortions......Rather than really being about a woman’s choice it has so often become an option which women are pushed towards when their pregnancy is inconvenient to others.....So many women will afterwards say that they had no choice other than abortion. This compounds the mental suffering that post- abortive women endure.” (As quoted by SPUC) scotland- 45196213 releases/2018/august/judicial- review- result