Call to action – Why women in England and Wales are having abortions earlier | Britain


WITHIN A WEEK of discovering she was pregnant in late April, Sylvie (not her real name) knew she wanted an abortion. The pandemic had made her the sole breadwinner, and she had a young daughter to look after. She called Marie Stopes, a charity, which arranged a phone consultation with a representative from BPAS, another charity, at her local hospital. Four days later a packet of medicine arrived through the letterbox, and she terminated her pregnancy at home with the support of her partner. Abortion is a “horrible thing,” she says. But “in terms of how it was handled, it couldn’t have gone better”.

Sylvie is one of 23,000 women in England and Wales who had an abortion at home between April and June. That this was possible was due to a temporary change in the rules introduced as the country went into lockdown. In normal times, the first of the two pills required for a medical abortion must be taken at a hospital or clinic. But emergency measures, introduced on March 30th to avoid unnecessary hospital visits, designated women’s homes as another place where the pills could be taken, at least until ten weeks of gestation.

As a result of the change, abortions are now happening earlier. Data published on September 10th show that between January and June this year, there were 109,836 abortions in England and Wales. Some 50% of these, including Sylvie’s, were performed before seven weeks, compared with fewer than 40% during the same period in 2019. The proportion performed before ten weeks rose from 81% to 86%. There was also a small uptick in the overall number.

Abortion is usually a safe procedure, but there is a direct correlation between the risk of complication and weeks of gestation, says Sam Rowlands, a doctor at the British Society of Abortion Care Providers, a representative group. That means easing access to early terminations has increased the safety of abortion care, says Edward Morris of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Both groups have called for the changes to be made permanent. The government has said it will launch a public consultation on the matter.

The picture is gloomier in those parts of Europe where politicians did not do much to ease access to abortion. Recent research by Abigail Aiken of the University of Texas at Austin looked at enquiries to Women on Web, a Canadian charity that provides pills to women in countries where at-home abortions are illegal. She found that during the pandemic they shot up in Italy (by 68%) and Portugal (by 139%). In Britain they fell to negligible levels.

Sylvie says the new way of doing things also reduced the psychological toll of the procedure. In 2011 she had to wait five weeks for an abortion, by which point she was nearing her second trimester. She lives in rural Cornwall, an area she says is “lacking in health care [providers] and forward thinking”. She remembers being passed “from pillar to post” while attempting to get an abortion. The experience was so bad she made a formal complaint. This time, however, she says the process was “respectful”, “compassionate” and, crucially for her, “private”.

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This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “Call to action”

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Trump Axes Funds for Planned Parenthood International Abortions



President Donald Trump is building on his efforts to protect unborn children with the announcement this week that the State Department is expanding foreign policy actions to prevent American taxpayers from paying for abortions around the globe.

After a conference call with reporters, a senior administration official told Breitbart News that the implementation of the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy (PLGHA) is going to save countless lives around the world by preventing the funding of organizations that promote or provide abortions, including International Planned Parenthood. This is according to reports released after the call.

“The purpose of the policy is to prevent American taxpayers from subsidizing abortion through global health assistance provided for populations in need,” the executive summary of the PLGHA report said:

As President Trump said in his address to the United Nations General Assembly in September of 2019, “Americans will also never tire of defending innocent life […and] we in America believe that every child — born and unborn — is a sacred gift from God.” Notably, two of the largest and most-vocal organizations that have attempted to assert a global right to abortion on demand​, International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International, declined to agree to PLGHA and therefore forfeited their eligibility for global health assistance funding from the U.S. Government.

Breitbart News asked about how much money these two abortion giants are forfeiting and a senior administration official said the combined loss is more than $140 million in annual funding.

“President Trump is the most pro-life president in history, and he backs up his pro-life commitments with real action,” a senior administration told Breitbart News. “We’re proud that we continue to support women and girls abroad and conduct and fund rigorous, cutting-edge scientific research at home while standing firm for the dignity of unborn life.”

Officials on the call also touted Trump’s dedication to “defending unborn life around the world” and that the due diligence done in researching this issue of putting pro-life policies into foreign policy shows that “pro-life policies do not stand in the way of health care for women.”

Officials on the White House call with reporters announced the release of two reports — one from the National Institutes of Health Report on the Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board- FY2020 and the Review of the Implementation the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy as mentioned earlier.

A senior administration official noted that the results of the ethics advisory board are in stark contrast to what President Bill Clinton did shortly after his election in 1993 on the 20th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that made abortion on demand the law of the land. 

The Los Angeles Times reported on the move:

With a stroke of a pen, President Clinton marked the 20th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade on Friday by dismantling a series of Ronald Reagan and George Bush Administration abortion restrictions, only hours after tens of thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators rallied across the street from the White House.

“Our vision should be of an America where abortion is safe and legal but rare,” Clinton said, as, on his third day in office, he fulfilled a campaign promise to abortion rights supporters and medical research organizations.

Clinton’s executive order included:

• Ended a five-year ban on fetal tissue research, which scientists believe holds the possibility of benefiting patients with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, Huntington’s disease, spinal cord injuries and other conditions.

• Overturned the so-called gag rule that restricted abortion counseling at 4,000 federally funded family planning clinics nationwide.

• Revoked prohibitions on the importation of RU486–known as the French “abortion pill”–for personal use, if the Food and Drug Administration determines that there is no justification for the prohibitions.

• Allowed abortions at U.S. military hospitals overseas, if they are paid for privately.

• Reversed a 1984 order which prevented the United States from providing foreign aid to overseas organizations that perform or promote abortion.

In contrast, the fetal tissue research conducted by the Trump administration shows that it is unnecessary to advance the prevention and curing diseases: 

The NIH Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board – FY2020 (Board) was established on February 20, 2020, by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to advise, consult with, and make recommendations to, the Secretary of HHS (Secretary) regarding the ethics of research involving human fetal tissue (HFT) proposed in NIH grant and cooperative agreement applications and research and development (R&D) contract proposals, 1 described below and as set forth in the NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-19-128.2

The majority of the board concluded that it should not use fetal tissue obtained through abortions for research.

The minority did express concerns about the board’s final report:

Two members of the Board asked that a dissenting opinion be included for the record, as follows: “This board was clearly constituted …so as to include a large majority of members who are on the public record as being opposed to human fetal tissue research of any type. This was clearly an attempt to block funding of as many contracts and grants as possible, even those responding to the NIH solicitation for proposals responsive to the notice: “Characterizing and Improving Humanized Immune System Mouse Models (IMM-HIS)”. This solicitation required comparison of current humanized mice made with human fetal tissue to proposed models that do not use human fetal tissue. The outcome of the Board’s deliberations are thus clearcut and will paradoxically fail to reduce the use of human fetal tissue in the development of humanized mice needed for therapy development including for COVID19.”

Senior administration officials on the call said they were “thrilled” to share the latest efforts to put pro-life policies in place in U.S. foreign policy.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter.





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