Ambulance dispatches and 999 calls responding to abortion pill concerns have risen by 64% since 2019 – GB News investigation
New rules have come into effect which permanently allow easier access to the 'Pills by Post’ in England and Wales
The pills were temporarily made available at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, allowing women to be posted the two pills after a telephone consultation with a specially trained nurse or doctor, removing the need to be seen and assessed in person.
Six ambulance trusts in England replied to GB News’ Freedom of Information request, which asked for the number of 999 calls and ambulances dispatches from people concerned about abortion pills.
They show there were at least 380 call-outs in 2019, this increased by 64 percent to 624 in 2020, with some ambulance trusts having double the number of calls and subsequent responses.
London Ambulance Service saw the number of callouts go from 93 in 2019 before the pandemic, to 150 in 2020, an increase of 61 percent. The ambulance dispatches rose even further in 2021.
South Western Ambulance Service saw the number of call outs increase from 33 in 2019 to 74 in 2020 – up by 124 percent.
All ambulance trusts show significant increases in the number of 999 calls from people concerned after taking abortion pills, South East Coast Ambulance Service saw 287 calls in 2019 – that increased to 386 in 2020, rising even further in 2021.
But Ann Furedi, former Chief Executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, says this increase in ambulance care is most likely down to people over-reacting to the heavy bleeding.
She said: "There are misconceptions about using the abortion pill that suggest it’s like a heavy period.
"When actually it isn’t, there’s a lot more bleeding. And a lot more pain than most people would ever experience with their period.
"You're actually causing an early miscarriage. I think that unless people are really clear that that is what is happening and that's normal and that's ok, it's easy to panic.
"Many of those ambulances may have been called out to women who were in a heightened stage of anxiety, particularly during the pandemic."
In March this year, the Commons was told since the change in the rules two years ago, 150,000 women have had abortions at home and MPs voted to retain the at-home service.
Women still have the option of being seen in person if they choose.
But with face-to-face consultations no longer mandatory, there have been concerns raised over whether there is enough safeguarding for vulnerable women or children.
37-year-old Kirsty Deakin from Solihull was forced by her boyfriend to order abortion pills over the phone during the first lockdown.
She told GB News: "I made the call to an abortion clinic sort of hoping they’d question my decision.
"Because I knew deep down, I didn’t want to do it. They didn’t even offer me a scan…I could have been anyone on the phone when I rang for the pills."
Early medical abortions are meant to be done within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, but without it being mandatory for women to be scanned in person, concerns have been raised that some women have taken the medication beyond the 10-week limit.
The National Network of Designated Health Care Professionals have recorded cases of women taking abortion pills when they’re too far along in their pregnancy, resulting in a small number of aborted babies being born alive.
As a result, a whistle-blower from one ambulance service told GB News that their ambulance trust has spent £7,000 on making special mannequins to train staff when confronted with this difficult situation.
However, the Department of Health and Social Care say, "doctors will also be required to certify in “good faith that the gestation period is below 10 weeks for abortion pills prescribed from home and if one or both pills are taken at a woman’s home".
Minister for Public Health, Maggie Throup, has welcomed today’s announcement which makes at-home abortion pills permanent.
She said: “The wellbeing and safety of women requiring access to abortion services is paramount.
"With these measures women will have more choice in how and where they access abortion services, while ensuring robust data is collected to ensure their continued safety.”