BY Peter Diamond | March 23 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Pro-life group take government to court

Pro-life campaigners went to the Court of Session this week in the first stage of their battle against the Scottish Government’s proposals to permit women to carry out DIY abortions at home

The hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh took place on Tuesday March 20, in front of senior judge Lady Wise.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children Scotland (SPUC Scotland) has requested a Judicial Review over the plans unveiled by the Scottish Government.

Chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood is behind the move, which would allow women to take an abortion pill at home rather than in a clinical setting under supervision.

The controversial initiative was outlined in October last year and followed on from the devolution of abortion matters from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament in 2016.

Dr Calderwood has the backing of the Scottish Government in proposing what SPUC consider to be ‘unlawful’ practice.

SPUC will be represented in court by Morag Ross QC, who has been involved in numerous high-profile human rights and civil liberties cases.

The DIY abortion plan involves sending women home from abortion clinics equipped with the drug Misoprostol, which they will be able to take in their own house, to induce a termination.

But SPUC has expressed deep concerns for the possible adverse impacts of the at-home policy on the health of women and is challenging the plan on two major grounds.

The pro-life group is arguing that the 1967 Abortion Act ‘was not intended to allow abortions to take place at home’ and that allowing women to take an abortion-causing drug at home ‘is not consistent with the Abortion Act which requires the presence of medical, nursing or clinical staff.’

John Deighan, chief executive of SPUC Scotland, said the government’s position was ‘unlawful.’

“They have refused to engage in discussion on the matter despite the detailed concerns we raised with them,” he said. “Therefore, we have been left with no option but to proceed to challenge it through the courts.”

John Deighan said: “The abortion pill has been greatly pushed by the government as if it were some sanitised and easy way of ending a pregnancy. It is far from that.

“The move to trivialise abortion is one that harms women and creates an environment where some women are even urged to have an abortion because it does not suit others. Our legal advice is clear, and we are confident that the Scottish Government’s decision to give women the abortion pill to take home is not in keeping with the law.”

Mr Deighan added: “We believe the government scheme amounts to authorising backstreet abortions. And that is not being alarmist—it is a simple fact. The potential health risks for mothers and their babies are horrific.

“There would be no medical oversight and this development will result in dreadful threats to women’s mental and physical health.”

A recent opinion poll by Com Res revealed Scottish voters are opposed to the controversial plans. It asked if women should be permitted to have an abortion in their own home by taking an abortion pill, without the necessity for qualified medical professionals to be present—42 per cent disagreed and only 38 per cent agreed.

Mr Deighan said: “Many vulnerable women who may be desperate about the situation they are in, will be pushed towards what is seen as the easy option of being handed some drugs and sent home to stop being a problem for society.” A Scottish Government spokesman said: “In light of the imminent court hearing, it would not be appropriate for the government to comment further at this stage.”

As the SCO went to print, it was expected that one or two days would be assigned to the case in June 2018.




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