Lone abortion during the Covid-19 pandemic is as “inhumane” as lone births, MPs have said, as they call for an end to the “baffling” practice.
Termination clinics today face calls for women who have been forced to undergo pregnancy on their own due to coronavirus restrictions to be allowed a partner or friend by their side.
Although the Government has now instructed NHS trusts to allow partners into baby scans and delivery rooms, women having abortions must often have the procedures alone.
Social distancing rules mean there is often not enough space inside hospitals and clinics for doctors, patients and partners.
Caroline Nokes, chair of Parliament’s women and equalities committee, said the regulations were another case of women’s issues and procedures not being prioritised.
“There is a whole range of female medical issues that seem to have been shuffled down to the bottom of the pack when it comes to thinking about the impact that it’s going to have long term,” she told the Telegraph.
“Whether it’s breast screening, scans in pregnancy or cervical smears, you’re having women going through what are quite difficult procedures and they are not able to have someone there to support them.
“If you’re going to go through a termination, the important thing is that you have the person who is most appropriate to support you there. That could be a relative or a friend who is going to give you the emotional and mental support you need.”
The BBC reported that the partner of a woman undergoing a termination at 20 weeks of pregnancy in Essex had been asked to wait in the car while she had the procedure.
"James was desperate to support me but was forced to sit in the car park again,” she said.
"It was his baby too, he deserved to be there."
Rupa Huq, a Labour MP who has campaigned against abuse of women having abortions, said the rules on social distancing in termination clinics were “baffling in the extreme and equally inhumane”.
“Terminating a pregnancy is one of the most difficult and harrowing experiences a woman can go through,” she said.
“To be forced to do it alone, without the support of a partner or source of moral support in the same way as one has a birth-partner, must be unimaginably devastating.
“The Government has a moral obligation to be flexible towards vulnerable women who find themselves in this position.”
Clare Murphy, Deputy Chief Executive at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said women “need support at what can be an extremely challenging time” and warned the pandemic has increased the likelihood of women feeling stigmatised or isolated during termination procedures.
“Women undergoing later medical termination for fetal anomaly need support at what can be an extremely challenging time, and we must do all we can to make sure they get this,” she said.