POLICE are probing the death of an unborn baby after a woman took “pills by post” abortion drugs while 28 weeks pregnant.
They were mailed under a new “home abortion” scheme set up after laws were relaxed because of the pandemic.
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But she was already four weeks past the legal 24-week termination limit — and 18 weeks past a new ten-week limit for medical abortions at home under Covid-19 regulations. Her baby was stillborn.
Babies born prematurely at 28 weeks typically have a 90 per cent chance of survival.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas), which runs the “pills by post” service, has confirmed it is investigating the case, plus eight more where women were beyond the ten-week limit.
A Midlands coroner is investigating the 28-week death and police have also been informed.
Last night a whistleblower said: “The ‘pills by post’ system has been brought in but a 40-minute phone call can never be the same as a proper medical consultation.
“There needs to be a proper investigation to find out just what went wrong.”
Under the scheme, a woman must consult a trained nurse or midwife in a 40-minute phone or video chat to get a prescription, with the pills mailed out.
But critics have warned the system is ripe for abuse or error.
How the rules were changed
RULES brought in last month mean women can now have a medical abortion at home up until week ten of pregnancy.
But they must consult a medic over the phone or video chat to get a prescription, with the pills sent by post.
Previously, abortions in England could be carried out only in a hospital, by a specialist provider or by a licensed clinic.
They also had to be approved by two doctors.
The new law lasts for two years under Covid-19 measures.
And pro-life groups have claimed abortion rights campaigners have taken “advantage of this crisis” to lobby for the “backdoor policy”.
Charity Bpas typically carries out 60,000 abortions each year in the UK, with around 97 per cent referred to them from the NHS.
The new home abortions have been allowed since March 31 because of the coronavirus crisis.
It was estimated 44,000 women would need abortions in the 12 weeks from April 1.
Bpas said it has issued more than 8,000 “pills by post” treatments since the scheme began.
Medical abortions require two pills — mifepristone and misoprostol. Before the change in the law, which has a time limit of two years, abortions in England could happen only in a hospital, licensed clinic or at a specialist provider.
Two doctors would also need to certify it did not breach the terms of the 1967 Abortion Act.
Last night Clare Murphy, of Bpas, said: “The swift establishment of a telemedical early medical abortion service at the start of this crisis has been a phenomenal achievement in women’s healthcare, enabling women to safely access the care they need at home.
“It has meant women have been able to end pregnancies at the earliest gestations, protecting their health and those around them by removing the need to travel long distances to clinics where social distancing is simply not possible.
“For women who are and remain unable to leave their homes due to underlying health conditions or coercive relationships, this scheme has quite simply been life-saving.
“We are aware of a vanishingly small number of pregnancies which were treated beyond the ten week gestational band, with just one over 24 weeks.”
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