Legal challenge over plans to allow women to take abortion drug

The case is being heard at the Court of Session in Edinburgh. Picture: Toby Williams
The case is being heard at the Court of Session in Edinburgh. Picture: Toby Williams
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A lawyer has told a judge the Scottish Government’s plans to allow pregnant women to take abortion-inducing medication at home is “unlawful”.

Advocate Morag Ross QC told judge Lady Wise yesterday that the Holyrood administration is exceeding its powers over the proposals.

Ms Ross wants the Court of Session to rule in favour of her client, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (Scotland).

The organisation has taken a judicial review at Scotland’s highest civil court over plans which have been presented by Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood. 
SPUC claims that Dr Calderwood wants to allow women to take an abortion pill at home in the presence of an adult rather than in a hospital under qualified medical supervision.

Ms Ross told the judge that the plans contravened the 1967 Abortion Act - the legislation which regulates the medical procedure.

She said that the act dictates that abortion can only be carried out in the presence of a doctor at a medical facility.

Outlining her arguments to the court, Ms Ross added: “The 1967 act does not give the power to approve a woman’s home as a place for abortion. The second proposition is that the proposals also run contrary to the requirements that the practice is carried out by a registered medical practitioner.”

Ms Ross was speaking on the first day of proceedings at the Court of Session.

SPUC have taken the action over proposals which have been recently made the Scottish Government. The plan involves sending women from abortion clinics equipped with the drug Misoprostol, which they can take in their homes and result in a termination.

Ms Ross said that research showed there could be medical risks associated with the plan.

But she said that the judicial review was focused on SPUC’s belief that the plans were not in accordance with legislation.

She added: “The petitioner’s position is that there is some research which states that there are risks. But this is not about research. It is about lawfulness.”

The hearing continues.