Abortion: Safety

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 14th December 2020.

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Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to an NHS email of 21 May 2020 from a Regional Chief Midwife on the reported escalating risk relating to home medical abortions, what assessment he has made of the veracity of incidents cited in that email of (a) women attending ED with significant pain and bleeding related to the process through to ruptured ectopics, major resuscitation for major haemorrhage and the delivery of infants who are up to 30 weeks gestation, (b) three police investigations including a murder investigation as there is a concern that the baby was live born and (c) a woman receiving pills at 32 weeks' gestation; and whether he holds information on similar incidents and in that or other regions in the last eight months.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to the Answer of 3 November 2020 to Question 99518 on Abortion: Private Sector, whether the incidents of complications relating to home medical abortion referred to in an NHS email of 21 May 2020 from a regional chief midwife describing an escalating risk of the Pills by Post scheme have been investigated.

Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

Safe, continued access to key services is our priority during this difficult period. We are aware of a small number of incidents which we are looking into alongside with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and other partners.

The Department is aware of reports of two women who died after seeking abortion treatment earlier this year. Both deaths have been appropriately investigated and in one case investigations are continuing. For the other case, the coroner concluded that there was no evidence to suggest the pregnancy or abortion contributed to the death either directly or indirectly. Both women attended an abortion service in person and based on information provided to the Department at least one of these women was supplied with pills to take at home under the 2018 approval.

We continue to closely monitor the impact of the temporary approval for women’s homes to be classed as of place where both sets of medication for early medical abortion can be taken. Officials have regular meetings with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the CQC and abortion service providers to ensure the appropriate safeguards are in place to protect women accessing this service.

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