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More women investigated for illegal terminations, says abortion provider

An unprecedented number of women are being investigated by police on suspicion of illegally ending a pregnancy, the BBC has been told.

Abortion provider MSI says it knows of up to 60 criminal inquiries in England and Wales since 2018, compared with almost zero before.

Some investigations followed natural pregnancy loss, File on 4 found.

Pregnancy loss is investigated only if credible evidence suggests a crime, the National Police Chiefs' Council says.

File on 4 has spoken to women who say that they have been "traumatised" and left feeling "suicidal" following criminal investigations lasting years.

Speaking for the first time, one woman described how she had been placed under investigation after giving birth prematurely, despite maintaining that she had never attempted an abortion.

Dr Jonathan Lord, medical director at MSI, which is one of the UK's main abortion providers, believes the "unprecedented" number of women now falling under investigation may be linked to the police's increased awareness of the availability of the "pills by post" scheme - introduced in England and Wales during the Covid-19 lockdown. Scotland also introduced a similar programme.

These "telemedicine" schemes, which allow pregnancies up to 10 weeks to be terminated at home, remain in effect. Campaigners are concerned that it is possible for women to knowingly or unknowingly use the pills after this point.

MSI's Dr Lord says criminal investigations and prosecutions further "traumatise" women after abortions, and that women deserve "compassion" rather than "punishment".

"These women are often vulnerable and in desperate situations - they need help, not investigation and punishment," he says.

Read full story

Source: BBC News, 20 February 2024


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