Four more abortion clinics close across the West Midlands

Four more Marie Stopes International abortion clinics have shut down across the West Midlands but terminations will continue in the region under a new contract given to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS). 

It follows the closure of the Marie Stopes International Birmingham abortion clinic in Edgbaston, following a litany of safety issues that put women at serious risk spanning decades.

The notorious clinic, previously known as the Calthorpe Clinic performed 6,153 abortions in 2018, making it the fourth-largest abortion centre in the UK.

The four clinics closed were all Marie Stopes International ‘early medical units’ performing medical abortions under ten weeks gestation.

The units in Birmingham, Nuneaton, Sandwell and Wolverhampton were responsible for the terminations of 1815 unborn babies in 2018.

The closures were due to a re-procurement of abortion ‘services’ by Sandwell and Walsall, West Birmingham, and Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).            

Marie Stopes was commissioned to provide abortion services by the CCGs in 2012, but did not re-bid for the contract when ‘abortion services were re-commissioned at the end of 2019’.

This resulted in the UK’s largest abortion provider, BPAS, which already has abortion clinics across the region being awarded the NHS contract for performing abortions in the region. 

Richard Bentley, Marie Stopes’ managing director, claimed the decision not to re-bid for the contract was down to the ‘unsustainable level of funding available’.

He said: “With the re-commissioning of services in the latter part of 2019, we took the difficult decision to not re-bid for the contract, as we were of the opinion that the level of funding being made available was not sustainable…

“We have been open and transparent with commissioners about the real cost of running the services, but despite lengthy discussions, the level of funding has not, in our opinion, been increased to sustainable levels to provide high quality, local services.”

However, Marie Stopes International did find the funding to pay its chief executive £434,500 in 2018, placing him in the top-10 highest earners in the charity sector.

The 2018 accounts of the abortion provider also revealed a record income of £296.8 million after they received over £48 million from the Department for International Development, their single largest donor.

A joint statement from Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, Walsall CCG and Wolverhampton CCG’s announced they were pleased to welcome BPAS as the new provider of abortion services in the region, and that they commenced services on January 1, 2020.

They also announced that surgical abortions would take place in Walsall Manor Hospital, in addition to BPAS abortion clinics.

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson has previously highlighted the irony of abortions taking place in hospitals.

Calling on the Government to revisit the topic of abortion time limits, following news that the survival rate for extremely premature babies has doubled over the past decade, she said:

“There is a real contradiction in British law. In one room of a hospital, doctors could be working to save a baby born alive before 24 weeks whilst in another room, a doctor could perform an abortion which would end the life of a baby at the same age. Surely this contradiction needs to end?”

The abortion industry has a chequered history in the West Midlands and has made the news on more than one occasion.

In 2000, Dr Andrew Gbinigie caused serious injuries to a young woman seeking an abortion in Birmingham. Her life was narrowly saved by three consultants, but at the cost of a kidney. In 2006, a nurse failed to check a client’s personal details and consequently gave a chemical abortion to the wrong woman. More evidence of poor conduct came to light in 2012 when Dr Palaniappan Rajmohan was caught on camera by undercover journalists offering to carry out sex-selective abortions.

In 2016 MSI Birmingham along with other MSI centres around the country had some of their ‘services’ suspended due to procedural and safety concerns raised by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). These included concerns that the right protocols weren’t in place to ensure girls under the age of 18 were able to give informed consent to their abortion, as well as concerns relating to all surgical abortions after 12 weeks.

Recent inspections revealed that between March 2018 and Feb 2019 there were 18 incidents where patients had to be transferred from the location to an NHS hospital. Volunteers offering pro-life help outside the clinic told March for Life UK it was not uncommon to see 2 or 3 ambulances lined up outside the building.

Figures from across political divide unite to oppose abortion law changes in Northern Ireland

A group made up of figures from across the political spectrum has accused Westminster politicians of treating Northern Ireland with “contempt” over abortion reform.

Writing in this newspaper today, 10 politicians, along with former Police Ombudsman Baroness Nuala O’Loan, call on the Government to step back from the “ill-conceived” changes to the law.

They say the modifications go far beyond that which is required by Parliament.

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