Doctors with no limits
DIY abortions in the UK, Africa, and across the borders
“First do no harm”, or words with similar meaning, are part of the Hippocratic Oath taken by some physicians.1 Clearly, this is a good thing for doctors to vow. Unfortunately, it is not always applied.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)—Doctors Without Borders—is an international, independent medical humanitarian organisation that undoubtedly does good work in many areas. Item 1 of the Chantilly Principles states: “MSF was founded to contribute to the protection of life and the alleviation of suffering out of respect for human dignity”.2 However, their stance on abortion makes it clear they only care about protecting life outside the womb.3 MSF promotes abortion even in areas where the majority of women do not want it, such as in parts of Africa where fertility and having many children is valued.4
A safety issue?
Also, in these third-world areas, there are very basic, urgent medical needs—abortion is not a medical need.5 For instance, would the financial means and human endeavour not be better invested in combatting the high mortality rate in many African nations? Instead, under the guise of tackling unsafe abortions, MSF say they want to make it safe.6 In accordance with this, the World Health Organization (WHO) says, “Abortions are safe if they are done with a method recommended by WHO…”.7
However, abortions are never safe. The aim of an abortion is to end the life of at least one person—the baby (or babies). Often another person—the mother—experiences emotional trauma and/or physical complications.8 Obviously, it is also tragic that at least “22,000 women and girls die each year after having an unsafe abortion”,9 and around “7 million women are admitted to hospitals every year in developing countries, as a result of unsafe abortion”.10 What about the estimated induced abortions (read: intentionally killed babies) that happen worldwide every year? In a previous article I gave the definition of murder as follows:
The unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.
God cares deeply about the sanctity of life, and so should we. The problem is that in many nations, laws have been set up that go against the will of the Creator. For instance, in these countries abortion is not unlawful if a second ‘professional’ opinion is obtained agreeing with it. In 2019, 56,000,000 babies were killed (in 2020 it was 42.6 million), making it the leading cause of death worldwide.11,12
The unborn baby is a human being beyond any shadow of a doubt (see Psalm 139:13–16; Jeremiah 1:4–5). 96% of professors in the biology departments of over 1,000 institutions around America affirm that a human’s life begins at fertilization.13 Yet, 85% of these people are pro-abortion. This means that the vast majority of professors who are ok with aborting a baby admit to knowing that abortions end human life!
DIY abortion pills
‘Do It Yourself’ (DIY) abortion pills—aka medical abortion—is contrary to surgical abortion. In short, DIY abortion consists of two different types of medication seeking to actively terminate a pregnancy, i.e. the baby. In some countries, these pills have been made available during the COVID-19 pandemic after a telephone conversation. Presumably this is to prevent people from travelling to clinics, so pregnant women can do an abortion in their homes. In the UK these tablets are (supposedly) only available if the gestation period is under 10 weeks—within the first quarter of the normal term.
The website How to use abortion pill states, “In countries where abortion is not restricted, most doctors recommend using the medications mifepristone and misoprostol in the first 11 weeks of a pregnancy” and it claims, “an abortion with pills is safe for women to use privately”.14,15 Despite it allegedly being “one of the safest medical procedures”, the same website warns that taking these pills might be harmful for nursing babies, and that you “need to be able to get there [the nearest 24 hour emergency medical centre] within 1 hour or less”. It then advises people in precarious situations (due to abortion being illegal in their country) to lie to the doctor on duty:
- “I’m unsure what’s happening. I just started bleeding.
- I’m bleeding, but it doesn’t feel like my normal period.
- I just suddenly started bleeding and I’m afraid something is wrong.”
It is ironic that Doctors Without Borders take pride in themselves with statements like, “We will not be silenced. We share the facts”; but the reader should refer to their website where they advise patients (in some circumstances) not to tell the truth.6 They also erroneously state that medical (DIY) abortions do not cause mental health problems (but they should talk to ‘Sophie’—see below).
An inconvenient truth
What circumstances cause people to undergo an abortion? Here are the top six reasons given in the US:16
|Percentage of women||Primary reason for choosing an abortion|
|25.5%||She wants to postpone childbearing|
|21.3%||She cannot afford a baby|
|14.1%||She has relationship problem or partner does not want pregnancy|
|12.2%||She is too young; parent(s) or other(s) object to the pregnancy|
|10.8%||Having a child will disrupt her education or employment|
|7.9%||She wants no (more) children|
Although the table above reflects statistics for the US (different reasons may exist in other places in the world), it is hard to come up with a reason that abortion proponents would think of as unacceptable. For example, where would you fit in somebody “not wanting to be pregnant on holiday”?17
During the period when DIY abortion pills were made available in the UK over the telephone, a ‘mystery client’18 contacted a provider of such tablets (in this case the British Pregnancy Advisory Service—BPAS) to obtain some for herself. In the dialogue that ensued, the reason above, given by the ‘pregnant’ woman, was answered by the consultant with, “any reason that you ever give is always going to be valid … but what I have to do is attach what you tell me to a legal reason. But any reason other than the sex of the baby is a valid reason to us” (more on the sex of the baby in the next section). The legal ‘reason’ attached was communicated as follows: “it sounds to me that the individual reason that you’re giving comes down to you just not being emotionally ready for a pregnancy right now.” Inconvenience is not the only reason to have an abortion (see the table above); a eugenics aspect (next section) is hard to deny.
Although the BPAS does not allow abortion based on the sex of the baby, it is not so in China.19 Such practices face some feminists with a dilemma, because they might proclaim that women and girls should have the right to choose the fate of their unborn baby. However, in China, more baby girls are being aborted than boys (although this may change now the ‘one child per family’ policy is no longer in force). In 2001, the ratio of boys to girls was 1.17, i.e. 17% higher than expected.20 Although illegal in China, more girls than boys were aborted.21 Was it because in some instances a second child was allowed if the first one was a girl? This is not likely.
It is not only the sex of the baby that can be known prior to birth. It is also possible to find out if the baby will have Down’s syndrome. Shockingly, on average 92% of these people are aborted each year in England and Wales.22
The negative consequences of a DIY abortion
Sophie (not her real name) needed emergency surgery after taking DIY abortion pills at home.23 She is not alone; 2% of women who have taken DIY abortion pills suffer complications.24 These are not ‘just pills’. Although a nurse, ‘Sophie’ was ill-informed about the path she had chosen to walk:
“The thing is, from my experience, we’re not giving women a choice. Choice is when you give a woman all the facts, you treat her like an intelligent human being and respect her, so that she can make an informed decision.
“But I was never really given full choice. Certain information was never disclosed to me – I’ve had to look it up later. And when I asked why they never told me, they said, ‘it would be cruel to a woman to tell her, it’s already a very difficult choice, it would be cruel to go into detail’. But that means you’re only given half the facts.
“Do we really think that’s acceptable? Keeping women in the dark in order to make their decision ‘easier’? That’s not a choice then, is it?”25
She adds, “Even if people don’t see this as an ethical issue, it’s still not telling the whole truth”, and later says, “I want people to realise that we can’t just take the information they’re feeding us at face value.” She now realises, “I’m never going to be able to meet my first child because I prevented it from happening.”
The subject of abortion is a highly emotive one and the teaching of CMI, based on Scripture, is clearly pro-life.26 There is no neutral position. I’ve heard it said, “Personally, I wouldn’t do it”, but that is a cop-out. “Personally, I wouldn’t rob a bank” is not a neutral stance to the question, “is robbing a bank a good or a bad thing?”. ‘Sophie’ has modified her views somewhat but she said in her interview, “I’d say I’m pro-choice for other people out there, but for myself, it’s not something I’d ever do [again]”. In other words, despite her horrendous ordeal, her view on abortion has not done a 180.27
The answer is not to make abortions safer (as said earlier, an abortion is certainly not safe for the baby); no, abortion is murder. Rather, let’s help both mother and baby as best as we possibly can.
For the Church, this means not ostracising someone who has undergone an abortion or has contemplated it. It is perfectly possible to embrace a sinner without embracing the sin. So let someone who has had an abortion embrace you; let someone who is going through a difficult time and wondering whether to keep her baby hug you. Jesus turned the tables on the self-righteous; let’s turn the tables on what the world expects Christians to do, and instead be like Jesus.
References and notes
- Not all physicians. Some may take a different oath, and some might take none. Either way, it seems intuitive, if not self-evident, that any medical person should aim to follow these simple words to the best of their ability. Return to text.
- See: Who are the medecins sans frontieres, http://association.msf.org/sites/default/files/documents/Principles%20Chantilly%20EN.pdf Return to text.
- This particular organisation (MSF) may seem singled out, but the hypocrisy extends beyond. Return to text.
- The Christian Institute, African women don’t want abortion, documentary reveals, Christian.org.uk, 15 March 2019. See a BBC interview (starting at 1:30) with Obianuju Ekeocha: Logan, A.B., Pro-Life African Woman Wrecks BBC News Anchor In Abortion Debate (REACTION), youtube.com, 18 July 2017. Return to text.
- The rare case of ectopic pregnancy, where a baby is growing outside the womb and must be removed in order to save the woman’s life, is not abortion, because the ending of the baby’s life is an unfortunate by-product of saving the mother’s life, and not the goal of the procedure. Of course if future medical advances make it possible to save these often-wanted babies, we would praise God for that. Return to text.
- MSF, Safe abortion access for all who need it, doctorswithoutborders.org, 23 January 2020. Return to text.
- WHO, Abortion: overview, who.int/health-topics/abortion#tab=tab_1, accessed 2 March 2021. Return to text.
- Although beyond the scope of this article, the father is not necessarily immune to a troubled mind. Return to text.
- MSF, Unsafe abortion: a forgotten emergency, doctorswithoutborders.org, 7 March 2019. Return to text.
- WHO, Preventing unsafe abortion, who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/preventing-unsafe-abortion, 25 September 2020. Return to text.
- SPUC news, 42.6 million abortions in 2020 – the leading cause of death worldwide, spuc.org.uk; accessed 18 February 2021. Return to text.
- Compare with CoViD-19 deaths from 23 January 2020 to 22 January 2021: 2,122,053. See www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/worldwide-graphs/#case-timeline. Return to text.
- Jacobs, S., I Asked Thousands of Biologists When Life Begins. The Answer Wasn’t Popular, quillette.com/2019/10/16/i-asked-thousands-of-biologists-when-life-begins-the-answer-wasnt-popular, 16 October 2019. Return to text.
- HowToUseAbortionPill, About medical abortion, howtouseabortionpill.org/about, accessed 5 March 2021. Return to text.
- A Dutch abortion organisation (StiSAN) warns against providing such pills beyond 10 weeks. Return to text.
- Wikipedia, Abortion in the United States, wikipedia.org, accessed 2 March 2021. Return to text.
- Seriously, see: Christian Concern, Abortion for ‘any reason’ other than sex-selection, says BPAS, christianconcern.com, 28 July 2020. Return to text.
- This is somebody who pretends to be interested in the service or product provided, to later provide feedback to the person or organisation who hired him/her. Think of it as an undercover investigator. Return to text.
- Also New Zealand (see: Family First, Abortion Legislation Act 2020 – Here’s how extreme it is…, familyfirst.org.nz, accessed 2 March 2021., and for instance Australia’s Victoria (see: Sheehan, C., Qld abortion law will allow targeting girls, catholicweekly.com.au, 12 September 2018. Return to text.
- Hesketh, T., et al., The Effect of China’s One-Child Family Policy after 25 Years, NEJM 353(11):1171–1176, 15 September 2005. Return to text.
- In other words, what happened in practice did not reflect what the law prescribed. Return to text.
- The Christian Institute, World Down Syndrome Day: Standing with the 92 per cent, Christian.org.uk, 21 March 2016. Return to text.
- Swerling, G., Nurse criticises judges over ‘DIY abortion’ ruling after ‘excruciating pain’ requiring surgery, telegraph.co.uk, 13 October 2020. Return to text.
- 2% applies for 0–7 weeks, above that, the percentage increases, according to HowToUseAbortionPill, Medical Abortion with Pills Between 10-11 Weeks of Pregnancy, howtouseabortionpill.org/abortion-pill-between-10-and-11-weeks, accessed 2 March 2021. Return to text.
- Moffet, R., Home abortion: ‘I don’t want anyone to suffer like I did’, christianconcern.com, 19 February 2021. Return to text.
- All proponents and opponents of abortion are able to hold their view because they are alive to do so. Return to text.
- Living Waters, 180, 180movie.com, accessed 2 March 2021. Return to text.