Bishop laments ‘sinister’ promotion of at-home medical abortions amid pandemic

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury. Credit: Mazur/

Bishop Davies has criticised the government for promoting at-home medical abortions during the coronavirus lockdown.

Speaking at a Mass for workers on the pandemic’s front line May 21, Bishop Mark Davies suggested the country would have to face “searching questions” in the wake of the crisis.

He said: “In the days to come we have some searching questions to ask as to how we valued the frailest members of society, whether the elderly dependent upon our care; or the unborn whose lives, and the well-being of whose mothers, were together assaulted by a sinister measure of the Department of Health to promote ‘do-it-yourself’ abortion in the first days of the crisis. Human life is truly valued only to the extent to which every human life is valued.”

In March, the U.K.’s Department of Health and Social Care announced that the country’s abortion laws were changing to allow women up to 10 weeks pregnant to complete a medical abortion at home after a telephone or online consultation with a doctor. 

The change applied nationwide but only had practical effect in England as home administering of medical abortions is already permitted under Scottish and Welsh law.

Bishop Davies was speaking at Shrewsbury Cathedral in the latest of a series of Thursday evening Masses for health and social care workers celebrated by bishops. The Masses end shortly before the weekly “Clap for our Carers,” when people throughout the U.K. stand outside their homes to applaud those helping coronavirus patients.

In his homily, Bishop Davies said that the modern approach to healthcare could be traced back to the evangelization of England. 

He said: “Our nation’s vision of healthcare did not begin by an initiative of the state, rather by this imperative to love and serve those in greatest need. In their modern forms, our medical and nursing professions would be inspired by such charity without boundaries.” 

“Today we can see perhaps more clearly than ever how the dedication of our doctors, nurses and care workers, and the labours of so many key workers — in the emergency services and in the often hidden work of cleaners, shop and transport workers, and innumerable volunteers — have shown this same desire to serve.”

He encouraged Catholics to pray for leaders facing “unprecedented choices” amid the pandemic, saying that science alone “can never serve as a sufficient guide to the life and choices of human society.”

“We have need of something greater, that moral vision of the value and dignity of the human person which helped form this nation from its beginning. If we ever lose sight of this vision, we do so at our peril,” he said.

Bishops will continue to celebrate the Thursday evening Masses for front-line workers throughout June and July.

The U.K., which has a population of almost 67 million, has the second highest number of recorded deaths from COVID-19 in the world after the United States. More than 36,000 people have died in the U.K. due to the disease as of May 22, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.