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.

Abortion giant boss who is campaigning for abortion up to birth awarded honorary doctorate by Kent University

Abortion giant boss Ann Furedi has been awarded an Honorary doctorate from the University of Kent.

The Chief Executive Officer of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), the UK’s largest independent abortion provider, was made an Honorary Doctor of Science (Social Sciences) at a ceremony in Canterbury Cathedral on 22 November.

The University of Kent has said it awards honorary degrees to “distinguished individuals from many walks of life who have made a significant contribution to society”

Despite BPAS being responsible for over 70,000 abortions last year, Furedi described her role as the “the best job in the world”.

She has repeatedly campaigned for more extreme abortion legislation and has told the Guardian, “the best abortion law would be a blank sheet of paper.”

Speaking at the launch of BPAS campaign ‘We Trust Womenshe said, “I would like to be very, very clear and blunt… there should be no legal upper limit.”

Controversially, former BPAS board member and abortion activist Professor Sally Sheldon is a member of the Honorary Degree Committee that selected Furedi for the award.

The law professor at the University of Kent has campaigned for abortion on demand for more than 20 years, supports sex-selective abortion, and was an architect of a private members bill calling for more extreme abortion legislation.

Sheldon has also been handed over £500,000 of public money to write a book about the history of abortion in Britain.

Ann Furedi’s husband Frank Furedi is the University of Kent’s Emeritus Professor of Sociology.

Alongside the launch of a BPAS report, arguing that women need access to both medical and surgical abortions, Furedi argued that abortion should be seen as a form of “birth control”.

She said: “Family planning is contraception and abortion. Abortion is birth control that women need when their regular method lets them down.”

In 2014, Furedi came under strong criticism when she told online magazine Spiked that women should be able to abort on the grounds of the child’s gender, saying:

“The woman gives her reasons, the doctor decides on the grounds as set out in the law… there is no legal requirement to deny a woman an abortion if she has a sex preference, providing that the legal grounds are still met.” 

She added, “the law is silent on the matter of gender selection, just as it is silent on rape.”

The last public poll in the UK on sex-selective abortion found that 84% of people (and 85% of women) favoured a total and explicit ban on abortions based on an unborn baby’s sex. Another ComRes poll found a similar figure, with 86% of people (and 88% of women) favouring a total ban on aborting babies solely because of their gender.

BPAS has objected to life-saving plans that would let coroners hold inquests for stillbirths over fears the move will recognise the humanity and personhood of an unborn baby.

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said:

“Awarding Ann Furedi an honorary degree is an incredible departure from recognising those whom the university claim the award is for. Abortion is not something beneficial to society, rather it is detrimental to society.“

‘Facetime abortions’ for teenage girls to pass unborn babies alone at home or school proposed by RCOG president

The President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), Lesley Regan, has called for the Government to roll out ‘Facetime abortions’ across the United Kingdom.

In the RCOG’s Better for Women reportto be released on Monday 2 December, they have proposed that an abortion consultation happens without a face-to-face appointment, instead happening either over the phone or Facetime/Skype. The abortion pills (mifepristone and misoprostol) would then be picked up from a pharmacy.

Under the current law, two doctors must sign off on any termination request before handing over any abortion pills. The first abortion pill must be taken in an abortion clinic or hospital with medical supervision.

Both abortion pills would be taken by the women or teenage girl alone without the direct support of medical staff. Although campaigners are calling for the pills to be taken at home, once the drugs are taken from a pharmacy, there would nothing to stop misoprostol being taken at other locations such as schools, colleges etc, possibly under coercion from third-parties. It is not clear how the NHS or independent clinics could ensure the pills are taken by women or teenage girls at home.

The supply of abortion pills would also be much more difficult to control given they could be taken from a pharmacy, making it difficult to ensure that women and teenage girls who have been prescribed the pill are those who actually take the pill. This would make it easier for third parties to obtain abortion pills to slip them into a woman’s food without her knowledge.

Lesley Regan was previously heavily criticised for saying that she wanted to see getting an abortion as easy as getting ‘your bunions sorted’.

The psychological risks associated with medical abortions out of a clinical environment can be severe, partly because women usually see the fetus, which they then have to flush away themselves. It is not hidden from them in the way a surgical abortion keeps the fetus from the view of the woman. Moreover, the remainder of the abortion is always in the home, not in an anonymous clinic that can be left behind.

The RCOG decision to call for extreme changes to abortion provision was made by only 33 members of the RCOG Council and their full membership was not consulted. Following the decision, there was a revolt among the RCOG membership and 650 doctors wrote an open letter to Lesley Regan objecting to the change in position without any consultation with their 6,000 membership. 

If the proposed changes went ahead, the UK’s two largest abortion providers would likely make far higher margins on each abortion they perform as they would no longer be required to provide a face to face appointment with a health professional and have two doctors certify an abortion.

A spokesperson for Right to Life UK Catherine Robinson said:

“Facetime abortions would leave teenage girls or other vulnerable women to take abortion pills and pass their unborn child alone at home, school or other locations without the direct support of medical staff and possibly under coercion from third-parties.

“Self-referral, self-administration and less medical involvement in abortions is not an improvement in health services for women. The absence of medical supervision for taking powerful drugs, often with great distress, is not an improvement in medical care. 

“This is another attempt to trivialise the ending of a life, rush women and teenage girls through the abortion process, providing less medical supervision and support for women. 205,295 babies in the womb were aborted in England and Waled in 2018. This does not appear to be enough for the abortion lobby and head of the RCOG, Lesley Regan, who has said she wants to see abortion as easy as getting ‘your bunions sorted’. Instead, they are lobbying for these changes which would mean less medical supervision, less time for women and teenage girls to explore options other than abortion and could see our already very high abortion rate increase even further.

“Contrary to the recommended changes seeking to rush women through the abortion process, a ComRes poll found that 79% of the general public in the UK are in favour of introducing consideration periods to ensure that a woman considering an abortion has enough time to consider all of the options available to her.

“The RCOG should address the reasons women seek out abortion services in such high numbers in this country, often because of; vulnerability, isolation, lack of financial or emotional support, or pressure from a partner. Simply rushing women through the abortion process does nothing to address the problems these women already face and would only later compound these issues if coupled with post-abortion regret. 

“The only people who would benefit from this change are the UK’s two big abortion providers. They would be able to make far higher margins on each abortion because they would no longer be required to provide a face to face appointment with a health professional and two doctors certifying an abortion.

“This is a reckless approach to healthcare. Women’s safety and mental or physical health should never be potentially compromised for the sake of expediency or convenience.” 

UK’s largest abortion provider asking MP candidates to pledge to introduce abortion up to birth

The UK’s largest abortion provider has launched a campaign to get MP candidates to pledge to introduce abortion on demand, for any reason, up to birth.

The ‘my pledge, my choice’ campaign was launched by abortion provider the British Pregnancy Advisory Service over the weekend. The campaign is asking constituents to ask prospective candidates to sign a ‘pro-choice’ pledge.

The pledge includes a commitment to, “Support further moves to decriminalise abortion in England and Wales in line with previous cross-party parliamentary bills and amendments, including the Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill 2017.”

The Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill 2017 was a ten-minute rule bill brought forward by Diana Johnson MP which sought to fully ‘decriminalise’ abortion by repealing ‘certain criminal offences relating to such terminations’. The radical abortion bill failed to pass at second reading.

The term ‘decriminalise’ is a misnomer used by abortion campaigners to describe the removal of almost all current safeguards around abortion.

Full decriminalisation of abortion involves repealing sections 58 and 59 Offences Against the Person Act along with the Infant Life Preservation Act. The Abortion Act 1967, sets out exceptions to this underlying legislation which last year allowed for over 200,000 abortions to take place in England and Wales. Without this underlying legislation, the Abortion Act would become redundant.

This change in law would scrap the current 24-week time legal limit for abortion – and abortion would be available on-demand, for any reason, up to birth. The current legal upper time limit would be completely abolished.

This would be the most extreme abortion law in the world. The change would position England and Wales drastically away from the European Union, where the most common abortion time limit among EU countries is 12 weeks

BPAS has not been shy about their intention to see abortion available on-demand, for any reason, up to birth. 

At the launch of the We Trust Women campaign to ‘decriminalise’ abortion the organisation’s CEO Ann Furedi made the position of the campaign very clear saying: “I want to be very, very clear and blunt… there should be no legal upper limit.”

In an interview on ITV’s Loose Women Anne Furedi reaffirmed the position that abortion should be available up-to-birth along with stating her support for allowing sex-selective abortions to take place in the UK. 

The proposed change in law is completely out of line with where women stand on the issue. Polling from Savant ComRes on whether time limits for abortion should be increased showed that only 1% of women wanted the time limit to be extended to more than 24 weeks and 1% wanted it to be increased right through to birth, in contrast to 70% of women who favoured a reduction in time limits.  

Alongside campaigning to introduce abortion-up-to-birth, BPAS has objected to life-saving plans that would let coroners hold inquests for stillbirths over fears the move will recognise the humanity and personhood of an unborn baby.

Numerous women who had lost children in labour hit back at BPAS’ response. Among them was Caroline Tully, who had to fight for an inquest for her daughter Clara. She told the Mail on Sunday, that BPAS’ opposition “could come at a cost to the lives of unborn babies, by allowing unsafe practices to go unchecked.”

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have pledged to introduce extreme changes to abortion legislation in their manifestos released last week. Both manifesto pledges have been welcomed by BPAS.

The release of the manifesto has come as Right To Life UK have launched a major general election campaign – the Vote For Both Lives campaign – a large-scale initiative that they will run throughout the country in the lead up to election day on 12th December. MP candidates are being asked to sign the Both Lives Pledge, which outlines three policy changes that are designed to increase protection for babies in the womb and end pregnancy discrimination for women. Independent polling by Savanta ComRes shows that all three policy changes are strongly supported by the public. 

Constituents are being encouraged to visit where it takes 30 seconds to ask their candidates to sign the Both Lives Pledge.

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“If this campaign was successful we would see the upper time limit completely abolished. Abortion would be available on-demand, for any reason, right through to birth. This means abortion throughout pregnancy.

Polling shows that this extreme proposal is not supported by women, with only 1% of women wanting the abortion time limit to be increased right through to birth.

The proposed law change would leave us with one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world and further position England and Wales drastically away from Europe where the most common abortion time limit among EU countries is 12 weeks.

MPs should be committing to bringing forward sensible new restrictions and increased support for women with unplanned pregnancies. This would ensure we were working together as a society to reduce the tragic number of abortions that happen each year.”