Written Question: Criminal Use of Abortion Pills
Lord Moylan: To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the prosecution of Carla Foster for an offence under section 58 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861; and what consideration they have given to proposing legislation to prevent similar cases from happening, in particular, by reintroducing the requirement for women to be seen in-person at least once before being issued abortion pills.
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Care (Lord Markham): No assessment has been made. Decisions to prosecute in England and Wales are a matter for the independent Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). As with all criminal offences, in deciding whether to bring a prosecution the CPS will apply the two-stage test in the Code for Crown Prosecutors: whether there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction; and whether a prosecution is needed in the public interest.
Parliament voted to amend the Abortion Act 1967 to allow women in England and Wales to take one or both pills for early medical abortion at home. Women should be given the choice to either have an in-person consultation with a clinician or to have a virtual consultation, and if eligible, will be able to take both pills for early medical abortion at home. We have been clear that abortion providers should not move to a digital by default approach.
There are no plans to review or change abortion laws. As with other matters of conscience, abortion is an issue on which the government adopts a neutral stance.