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Thousands of 18–24-year-old women given abortion pills, substances without their knowledge or consent, poll suggests

One in twenty 18–24-year-old women in the UK have been given abortion pills or other substances to cause abortion without their knowledge or consent, doubling from older age groups, a recent poll commissioned by BBC Radio 4 has found.

Medical doctor and research associate at the University of Oxford, Dr Calum Miller, highlighted the findings of the BBC poll to advocate for an end to at-home abortion pills that can be so easily available to abusers.

The poll found that 5% of that age group answered yes when asked if they had been given “something (tablets/ substance) to cause an abortion without your knowledge or consent”.  The Life Institute noted that if the finding was extrapolated to the entire female population aged 18-24, many thousands of women would be affected.

Megan Ni Scanláin of the Life Institute said: “There are 2.6 million women aged between 18 and 24 in the UK. If 5% were affected that’s a horrifying number of women – many thousands, even at a conservative estimate,” she said.

“It is frightening that some healthcare providers are lobbying for these pills to be made even more easily available to abusers,” Dr Miller said in the wake of the findings from last month’s poll, which interviewed women from Northern Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland. Since then, the UK Government has performed a U-turn on plans to end at-home abortions, after MPs voted to extend the UK’s ‘pills by post’ scheme indefinitely.

The doctor also took to Twitter to criticise those who dismissed the findings of the poll, urging for the disconcerting findings to be taken seriously.


The poll on reproductive coercion was undertaken by Savanta ComRes, members of the British Polling Council, after being commissioned by BBC Radio 4. Savanta ComRes interviewed 1,060 UK women aged 18-44 between 16th and 17th February 2022, including 530 women who experienced reproductive coercion.

Data was weighted to the representative of UK women aged 18-44 by age and region. The survey found that 5% of 18-24-year-olds had been given abortion pills without their knowledge or consent, and 50% of all women had experienced some form of reproductive coercion.

It comes as MPs last week voted to continue its controversial ‘pills by post’ scheme allowing at-home abortions without the requirement for women to see a medical professional face-to-face. Women in England, Scotland and Wales, will now be allowed to perform DIY abortions at home for the indefinite future, after MPs voted to compel minister to make at-home abortions permanent instead of scrapping the scheme in September – as had been previously announced.

While media outlets such as the Guardian and Cosmopolitan hailed the moved as a ‘benefit for thousands of women’ and ‘a huge win for women in the UK,’ Gript has previously reported on the consequences of abortion pills by post, with coercion being one factor highlighted in the BBC’s recent study. 

In September, UK ambulance chiefs reported a significant surge in the number of 999 calls from women taking abortion pills at home, in what was labelled a ‘deeply concerning’ development by pro-life campaigners.

Dr Callum Miller was amongst several doctors who took to Twitter to condemn the vote by MPs.

“Shame on these Tory MPs, especially, who voted to put vulnerable women in permanent danger of coerced abortion, ruptured ectopic pregnancies, and much more by voting for the notorious pills by post programme,” he said.


It comes as the BBC highlighted the case of a 16-year-old girl who described the horror of a home abortion at 20 weeks’ gestation. Savannah, not her real name, had an abortion at 20 weeks after a phone consultation miscalculated her gestation by 12 weeks.

The girl had the phone consultation with abortion provider, BPAS, who determined that she was less than 8 weeks pregnant. When she went to the abortion centre to collect the abortion pills, the staff did not perform a medical examination or a scan to determine gestation.

After Savannah took both abortion pills at home, she said she felt “really bad” pain. Her boyfriend saw the feet of their 20-week-old child, who was born alive.

“My relative called another ambulance because when I was pushing, my boyfriend could see feet”, she said.

Her baby was born alive, with his heart beating, and they both had to be taken to hospital. The hospital concluded that Savannah had been between 20 and 21 weeks pregnant.

The teenager said she would have gone through with the pregnancy and carried her son to term if she had known how far along she was.

“If they scanned me and I knew that I was that far gone, then I would have had him”, she said. Savannah said that she had been left traumatised.

BPAS declined to comment on the devastating case.

Dr Miller said advocates of at home abortion and abortion providers keep claiming telemedicine abortion is safe, but either ignore or don’t care about the evidence to the contrary presented.


47 cases of early medical abortions that actually resulted in mid-to-late abortions, across all ages, since March 2020, have been recorded by The National Network of Designated Health Care Professionals (NNDHP), which represents senior NHS doctors and nurses who fulfil child-safeguarding roles in England.

In 12 of those instances, there had been signs of life – or in other words, the baby was born alive and in pain.

NNDHP early medical abortions lead Dr Helen Daley, a consultant paediatrician, said at-home abortions have left women, men, girls and staff traumatised. She said:

“We’ve had young people say they are depressed, anxious, afraid to go out, months after the event. We’ve also had staff being hugely traumatised.”

BPAS admit there have been cases where the gestation of the baby was more advanced than expected.

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