The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) is Great Britain’s leading abortion provider and is fighting to expand abortion access overseas. BPAS took the British Department of Health to the country’s highest court due to its refusal to allow women to self-administer chemical abortion drugs mifepristone and misoprostol at home. Earlier this month, British High Court Judge Michael Supperstone rejected the legal challenge.
BPAS’s legal argument was that the language of Britain’s Abortion Act of 1967 requiring “treatment” to be given in a hospital or a clinic refers to the prescription of the drugs and not the actual administration. If BPAS had won this case, women would have been able to commit at- home abortions by self-administering the second set of pills without any medical supervision. There is no way to estimate the number of women who would have accidently misused the drugs and suffered adverse effects under this scenario.
Judge Supperstone ruled in favor of the Department of Health’s interpretation that the administration of both sets of abortion tablets amounted to “treatment” and must be supervised by registered medical professionals on clinic premises. This is a solid victory for the Pro-Life movement that not only helps to assure the safety of women and the unborn internationally, but also protects the right of medical personnel to object to committing abortions.
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) applauded Judge Supperstone’s ruling, and its significant international impact for the Pro-Life movement. Katherine Hampton, a SPUC spokeswoman, explained, “Chemical abortions are widely promoted in poorer countries, and any move to widen the practice here may adversely affect unborn babies and women around the world. If BPAS had won this case, it would send out the false signal that there is a ‘safe’ route to abortion. That could lead to more abortions, and more dead babies, and more suffering for women.” If other countries had seen Great Britain expand the practice of chemical abortions at home, then they most likely would have taken steps to follow suit.
The SPUC also points out that if BPAS had won the case, medical professionals would have lost the right to morally object to committing abortions. The Abortion Act of 1967 protects the right of medics to object to “treatment” that results in abortion. If BPAS had won the argument that prescribing the drugs is the “treatment” and administering them is outside of that umbrella, then medical professionals would no longer have a right to object to administering abortion drugs such as RU-486 on clinic premises.
Judge Supperstone’s ruling is a major victory for the Pro-Life community. It protects the safety of women, prevents setting a precedent for the spread of chemical abortions, and protects the right of medics to morally object to abortions. Every legal battle that is won brings us one step closer to a truly Pro-Life society.
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