England: Surge in 999 calls over ‘DIY’ abortions since last year

England: Surge in 999 calls over ‘DIY’ abortions since last year

Ambulance chiefs in England have reported a surge in 999 emergency calls from women performing ‘DIY’ at-home abortions.

Following a Freedom of Information request, three ambulance services in England have revealed a sizeable increase in abortion-pill-related calls or responses since at-home abortions were permitted in April 2020.

South Western Ambulance Service saw the largest increase in ambulance despatches related to the taking of abortion pills at home, with numbers three times higher than those seen before the Government permitted ‘DIY’ home abortions in April last year. London also saw the number of ambulance despatches double from 7 to 14 per month over the same time period.

South East Coast Ambulance Service also reported a significant increase in ambulance despatches for problems arising from taking abortion pills at home, with an average increase of 17 to 24 per month.

‘DIY’ home abortions were first introduced by the Government during the coronavirus outbreak last year. The system permits women to take both abortion pills at home without having an in-person meeting with a medical professional.

Wales has also seen a 100% increase in ambulance call-outs to people taking abortion pills at home between April 2020 and March 2021.

The increase in ambulance call-outs is evidence of the serious safety issues that have arisen from taking abortion pills at home independently of a clinical context. 

It highlights the fact that abortion providers currently cannot ensure the pills they prescribe are taken by the intended individual in safe, uncoerced circumstances within the appropriate time frame, which is a serious concern for underage sexual abuse victims and women in abusive relationships.