Court grants judicial review into DIY abortions

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The Court of Appeal has granted a judicial review into DIY abortions after a legal challenge by Christian Concern. 

Abortion regulations were temporarily relaxed after the country went into lockdown so that pregnant women and girls could take both abortion pills at home up to 10 weeks. The changes meant that the pills could be prescribed during a phone consultation and then sent by post. 

But on Monday, Lord Justice Lewison said it was "arguable" that Health Secretary Matt Hancock had exceeded his powers under the 1967 Abortion Act by determining that abortions could happen in the home. 

His ruling overturns that of the High Court, which rejected Christian Concern's legal challenge. 

Christian Concern argues that only Parliament has the authority to change the law on where abortions can take place - under normal rules, this is in NHS hospitals and approved clinics. 

In an expert report submitted in support of Christian Concern's case,  Dr Gregory Gardner said the decision to allow home abortions puts women at serious risk of harm to physical and mental heath, and increased risk of coerced abortions. 

Former director of Marie Stopes International, Kevin Duffy, said in another expert report on behalf of Christian Concern that Hancock had been given "misleading" advice by civil servants and that DIY abortions were not materially different from illegal 'backstreet' abortions. 

Christian Concern's legal challenge also has the support of former government minister Ann Widdecombe.

Andrea Williams, head of Christian Concern, welcomed the court's decision.

"Abortion numbers are at record highs. The government is making every effort to liberalise abortion to the point of decriminalisation," she said.

"The Westminster government has forced abortion onto Northern Ireland.

"It is equally clear that the Department's regulations on DIY abortions, being brought under the guise of being necessary due to coronavirus, were never meant to be temporary. I cannot overstate the importance of this appeal.

"We now have a genuine opportunity to expose the lies and dubious practices of the abortion industry. In doing so, we hope that some lives will be saved, and mother's protected.

"What is truly shocking is the unfettered and inappropriate level of access to government that the abortion lobby has."