Christian Concern is threatening to launch a legal challenge of what it says is “the biggest change to abortion law since the 1967 Abortion Act”, which has been introduced under coronavirus emergency legislation.
The anti-abortion organisation says it will judicially review the government’s decision to allow doctors to prescribe drugs by phone or over video-links that will enable patients to carry out home abortions.
The aim of the change was prevent women having to visit doctors’ surgeries or hospitals during the pandemic crisis. Christian Concern describes it as creating “DIY abortions” and points out that the government position shifted several time during the debates over emergency legislation.
The new rules permit doctors to prescribe mifepristone and misoprostol remotely.
The chief executive of Christian Concern, Andrea Williams, said:
The government has acted unlawfully in changing the law on abortion without due process.
Parliament was explicitly told by the government that it had no plans to change the rules on abortion in response to Covid-19. Only a week later the government fundamentally changed the rules with no consultation or scrutiny.
We are launching a judicial review of the decision to change the law on abortion after being told by parliament that the rules would not be changed. We believe this decision was unlawful.
The high street chemist giant Boots and community initiative The Hygiene Bank have teamed up to help support the NHS staff working in hospitals across the UK by donating over 200,000 toiletries for their personal use.
Thousands of essential items – including hand cream, toothpaste and shower gel – will to help frontline workers have access to hygiene essentials for use at wash stations between busy shifts.
Using the distribution network of the food redistribution charity FareShare, toiletries will also be sent directly to local charities to be used where they are needed in the community and to the vulnerable including the homeless and rough sleepers.
Seb James, managing director of Boots UK, said:
Boots has always been a critical partner to the NHS and on behalf of our amazing teams, we wanted to show our appreciation for the world-class care the men and women on the frontline of the NHS provide every single day.
My 93-year-old mum is in a care home, but my dad relies on care workers and a home help visiting him three times a day. So far, my parents have been getting excellent support. But what happens if their care staff get sick?
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Scotland’s most senior law officer has made a personal statement reassuring victims of domestic abuse that their welfare remains a priority for law enforcement during the coronavirus outbreak.
The lord advocate, James Wolffe QC, said:
With the public following government advice to stay at home in order to restrict the spread of coronavirus, we know that those experiencing domestic abuse may be more at risk. I want to reassure victims that public safety remains the priority for law enforcement during this period.
Speaking on the first anniversary of the introduction of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, which has been described as an international gold standard for criminalising coercive and controlling behaviour, Wolffe added:
Prosecutors will continue to use all the tools at their disposal to prosecute domestic abuse, including the ground-breaking legislation which was introduced last year. I would strongly encourage anyone who has been a victim of such offending to report this to the police and to seek support.
Yesterday, Scottish Women’s Aid welcomed a £1.35m funding boost from the Scottish government. The goup’s chief executive, Marsha Scott, said:
Unfortunately, it is our job to point out that domestic abuse is not taking a break for this virus and that robust implementation of the new law is now more urgent and important than ever. In fact, all indications from other countries and other epidemics is that children and women will need more protection and faster responses than ever.
Scott added that, while the new legislation had been embraced at a national level, locally implementation remained patchy.
Police Scotland has said that while it was too early to assess the impact of coronavirus on incidents of domestic abuse, officers were identifying people who may be at risk, working closely with third sector organisations and looking at options including providing alarms to those most at risk.