PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Calls for inquiry after abortion provider director used RCOG position to pressure MPs to support extreme abortion up to birth amendments
Right To Life UK is calling on the Government to undertake an urgent inquiry after the Medical Director of one of the UK’s largest abortion providers used his RCOG position to put pressure on Parliament to support two extreme abortion up to birth amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill that are about to be debated and potentially voted on by MPs.
Jonathan Lord, the Medical Director for MSI Reproductive Choices (formerly Marie Stopes International), used his position at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) to issue new guidance that discourages medical professionals from reporting suspected illegal abortions to the police.
Stella Creasy and Diana Johnson have tabled amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill that would remove offences that make it illegal for a woman to perform a self-abortion at any point right through to birth.
Neither of the amendments outlines circumstances in which it would continue to be an offence for a woman to perform a self-abortion – the changes to the law would apply throughout all nine months of pregnancy and would not exclude sex-selective abortions.
Ahead of the amendments being considered by Parliament, the RCOG has announced that it will be publishing guidelines outlining that medical professionals are under “no legal obligation” to inform police of cases in which they believe a patient may have had an illegal abortion. The RCOG has also claimed that it is “never in the public interest” to investigate a patient suspected of having an illegal abortion.
Speaking on the BBC Today Programme on Monday, Dr Jonathon Lord, Co-Chair of RCOG’s Abortion Taskforce and FSRH representative on the Guidelines Committee, admitted that he is behind the guidance chairing the group that “drew it up”.
Dr Jonathan Lord is also Medical Director for MSI Reproductive Choices, which is currently campaigning in support of Diana Johnson’s extreme abortion up to birth amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill.
The RCOG guidance has been released just ahead of Parliament considering Diana Johnson and Stella Creasy’s abortion amendments, and appears to have been released to put pressure on MPs to support an extreme change to abortion law. The new guidance also reduces legal oversight of abortion, an area in which Jonathan Lord has a stake as Medical Director at MSI Reproductive Choices.
Commenting on X (formerly Twitter), Kevin Duffy, former Global Director of Clinics Development at MSI Reproductive Choices, said “RCOG knows that a small number of women obtain pills-by-post illegally from BPAS and MSI-RC, and that at least 13% will subsequently suffer an incomplete abortion and need medical help. Now RCOG wants to make sure that NHS staff do not report the illegal abortion. Disgraceful”.
Previous scandals involved Jonathan Lord and MSI Reproductive Choices
Dr Jonathan Lord was previously found to be behind a project, condemned by the Court of Appeal, which involved lobbying judges in relation to a late-term abortion case.
Lord also faced a General Medical Council ‘fitness to practice’ hearing over a series of professional misconduct concerns raised by a group of doctors, which included ‘harassing’ and ‘scaring’ a vulnerable woman in a crisis pregnancy.
A damning report from the UK’s Care Quality Commission (CQC) accused Marie Stopes International (now MSI Reproductive Choices) of paying staff bonuses for persuading women to have abortions.
At all 70 Marie Stopes clinics, inspectors from the Care Quality Commission found evidence of a policy that saw staff utilise a high-pressure sales tactic, calling women who had decided against having an abortion to offer them another appointment.
Another report showed that nearly 400 botched abortions were carried out in two months at Marie Stopes clinics. The report also outlined that, in another three-month period, 11 women needed emergency transfers to hospital after difficulties at facilities run by the abortion provider.
In 2016, Marie Stopes International was forced to suspend abortion services for a month after an unannounced inspection by the CQC found 2,600 safety flaws at Marie Stopes International abortion clinics in the UK. These included doctors going home and leaving women under sedation to be supervised by nurses and healthcare assistants, fetuses being put in waste bins rather than cremated and staff trying to give a vulnerable, visibly distressed woman an abortion without her consent.
The inspectors also found that almost half of nurses working at the clinics had not been trained to do resuscitation, safety incidents including medical blunders and equipment failures had increased by a third in a year and doctors were signing off up to 60 consent forms at a time when they were meant to be making a thorough assessment. One doctor filled in up to 26 consent forms in two minutes.
Proposed changes to the law would make situation worse
The actual cause of the, albeit small, increase in the number of prosecutions following an illegal abortion, as recently admitted by abortion campaigner Stella Creasy MP, is because of the ‘pills-by-post’ scheme, which has led to an increase in illegal late-term abortions, and which was supported by Diana Johnson, Stella Creasy, BPAS and MSI Reproductive Choices.
Diana Johnson and Stella Creasy’s amendments would make this situation worse, likely leading to more women self-administering abortion pills to procure late-term abortions, causing serious risks to their health (a return of the ‘backstreet abortion’).
Rather than making the situation worse and making our abortion laws even more extreme, pro-life campaigners are calling on Parliament to protect women by seeking the reinstatement of the requirement for in-person medical appointments to verify gestational age and assess a woman’s health before abortion pills can be prescribed.
Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said:
“Dr Jonathan Lord, Medical Director of MSI Reproductive Choices, one of the largest abortion providers in the UK, has admitted that he is behind the guidance, chairing the group that drew it up. This is a clear conflict of interest since this guidance is essentially pushing for reduced legal oversight into an area in which he has a significant stake”.
“We are calling on the Government to undertake an urgent inquiry into RCOG and the clear conflict of interest in having the medical director of one of the largest abortion providers author and issue this guidance”.
“It is deeply inappropriate for the RCOG to usurp Parliament by issuing guidance related to criminal investigations. Where a crime is suspected of being committed, it is the role of the legal system to determine whether or not a crime took place and whether or not it is in the public interest to prosecute”.
“This guidance is also especially alarming in regard to instances of coerced abortions. Illegal abortions can occur as a result of abuse, coercion or sex trafficking. This new guidance appears to create a presumption against disclosing information about illegal abortions to the police, and this could leave vulnerable women in these situations being denied the protection of the law”.
“The actual cause of the, albeit small, increase in the number of prosecutions following an illegal abortion, as recently admitted by abortion campaigner Stella Creasy MP, is because of the ‘pills-by-post’ scheme, which has led to an increase in illegal late-term abortions, and which was supported by Diana Johnson, Stella Creasy, BPAS and MSI Reproductive Choices”.
“Rather than making the situation worse and making our abortion laws even more extreme, Parliament ought to protect women by seeking the reinstatement of the requirement for in-person medical appointments to verify gestational age and assess a woman’s health before abortion pills can be prescribed”.