Radical abortion amendments tabled to Domestic Abuse Bill

Two radical amendments have been tabled to the Domestic Abuse Bill by Diana Johnson MP ahead of the final stages of the Bill in the House of Commons which will take place on Monday 6 July.

New Clause 28 seeks to allow both medical and surgical ‘DIY’ home abortions to take place on a permanent basis in any location if a woman is in an abusive relationship.

This new clause goes even further than the Government’s current temporary measure allowing medical and surgical abortions legal outside of a hospital or place approved by the Secretary of State. The current temporary measure allows ‘DIY’ abortions only up to 9 weeks and 6 days’ gestation for safety reasons. However, there is no similar time limit outlined in this amendment.

New Clause 29 seeks to ‘decriminalise’ abortion by repealing sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Persons Act.

This would leave England and Wales with no abortion law through to 28-weeks. This would mean abortion on demand, for any reason (including sex-selective abortion). The change would be the most extreme change to abortion legislation since 1967 and would leave England and Wales with one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world. 

The abortion lobby announced their intentions to hijack the Domestic Abuse Bill with these extreme amendments earlier this week, with abortion provider BPAS urging their supporters to lobby MPs ahead of next week’s vote.

New Clause 28: More harm for women

Contrary to BPAS’ claims, and the aims of the Domestic Abuse Bill, New Clause 28 would likely result in a far greater number of women being coerced or forced into an unwanted abortion. 

By making both medical and surgical abortions legal outside of a hospital setting or place approved by the Secretary of State and removing the requirement for an in-person consultation, it will be difficult for physicians and providers ascertain if abuse or coercion is involved.

The extreme change could compromise the privacy of the patient and, in theory, could allow an abuser to hide in the background of an ‘electronic’ consultation.

According to an investigation conducted by the Independent last year, already “one in seven women in the UK have been bullied into either getting pregnant or having an abortion.” New Clause 28 does nothing to address this coercion and will likely make the situation much worse.

Earlier this year, a pharmacist and self-styled pastor, who sexually abused children, covered up his crimes on some of his vulnerable victims by obtaining medical abortion pills through his role as a pharmacist.

Dr Gregory Gardner, a longstanding GP and honorary clinical lecturer at the University of Birmingham, has revealed how the radical proposed changes in law could open more children and women up to abuse and coerced abortion.

In an expert witness statement for a UK Court of Appeal legal challenge against ‘DIY’ home abortions, the leading doctor said: “It will be difficult if not impossible to verify by phone or video whether a woman is undergoing any kind of duress to have an abortion.

“There does not seem to have been any consideration given to this in the proposed change in policy. There will be women who need delicate counselling to discover coercion or other forms of abuse.”

Furthermore, by removing the 10-week limit, late-term abortions, similar to the one that caused the death of an unborn baby at 28 weeks in May, will likely become more commonplace.

In addition, it was revealed a further eight cases of women taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills beyond the current 10-week limit were being investigated.

A number of women have also come forward to share the serious problems they’ve experienced after taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills.

New Clause 29: Abortion on demand up to 28 weeks

As the Abortion Act was passed to create exceptions to sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Persons Act and Infant Life Preservation Act, a repeal of sections 58 and 59 of the OAPA would effectively result in the majority of the Abortion Act becoming moot.

Repealing these provisions would introduce abortion on demand, for any reason, up to 28 weeks in England and Wales. There would be no abortion law up to 28-weeks.

This would not only leave England and Wales with the most extreme abortion law in Europe, but also allow for sex-selective abortions to take place up to 28 weeks. 

Canada has been described as a “haven” for sex-selective terminations, which often single out baby girls due to a preference among certain parents and some cultures for having sons, due to the country’s permissive abortion laws.

Despite the current law, there is also evidence of this practice in the UK, and it is possible that a form of ‘abortion tourism’ could arise from countries which protect unborn babies from sex-selective abortions. 

In addition, a number of other safeguards, protecting both women and unborn babies, would be removed from the current law. 

There would be no legal requirement that two doctors must certify an abortion, and doctors would no longer be required to participate in an abortion procedure. Instead, healthcare assistants, nurses, and pharmacists could carry out abortions without a trained doctor present in the case of a complication.

Extreme proposals not in line with what women want

The extreme proposals being put forward by BPAS and the abortion lobby are completely out of line with where women stand on the issue. 

Recent polling, conducted by Savanta ComRes, on whether time limits for abortion should be increased showed that only 1% of women wanted the time limit to be extended. In contrast 70% of women favoured a reduction in time limits.  

Furthermore, a poll from March 2014, showed that 94% of women agreed that a woman requesting an abortion should always be seen in person by a qualified doctor. This current requirement in law would be removed under the abortion lobby’s plans. 

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said: “It is highly inappropriate for the abortion lobby to hijack the Domestic Abuse Bill in a way that not only undermines its support for victims of domestic abuse and their families, but could also result in women and their babies facing more harm. 

“Polling shows that this extreme proposal is not supported by women, with only 1% of women wanting the abortion time limit to be increased beyond 24-weeks.

“MPs should reject these extreme amendments and commit to bringing forward sensible legislation with 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.”

Pharmacist who sexually abused children highlights danger of removing abortion from criminal law

A pharmacist and self-styled pastor who sexually abused children and organised abortions for his victims, in order to cover up his abuse, has been convicted of raping several members of his church.

Michael Oluronbi preyed on children as young as eight during a campaign of abuse which lasted over 20 years, and saw four of his seven victims falling pregnant several times.

During the trial, the jury heard how Oluronbi had abused his position as a pharmacist to access certain medications and book the young victims into abortion clinics under false names. One girl estimated she had five or six during secondary school.

Five of the victims attended Oluronbi’s ‘cult-like’ church in Edgbaston, Birmingham – the same location where five Marie Stopes International abortion clinics closed this month.

Phil Bradley QC, the prosecuting barrister, revealed how some of the offending had “progressed to repeated rapes, on many occasions leading to unwanted pregnancies and terminations”.

He added: “You will learn that this man, who was revered and feared by his victims, kept a vice-like grip on many of them and continued to abuse them well into adulthood.”

One of the victims told the BBC that the Oluronbi’s actions had been “terrible” and “affected everyone’s lives”.

The abuse of one boy and six girls started when they were children – one as young as eight, and for some, continued into adulthood.

Oluronbi would rape his young victims after “spiritual baths”, while living in Birmingham and London, telling some of the children they would fail exams if they refused his advances.

The 60-year-old was finally arrested after one of his child victims, now an adult, came forward to police. He was arrested in May 2018 at Birmingham Airport as he tried to flee the UK.

Despite laughing in court while giving evidence in his own defence and denying any wrongdoing, Oluronbi was convicted on Friday after a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

He was convicted of 15 rape charges, seven indecent assaults and two sexual assaults. His wife, 58, was found guilty of three charges of aiding and abetting rape by assisting her husband arrange abortions. Both will be sentenced at a later date.

However, police believe there could be more victims and urge anyone with information to get in touch.

The case is similar to that of senior mental health nurse, Givemore Gezi, who was jailed for having sex with an underage girl he pressured to have an abortion.  

According to the BBC, his victim told Exter Crown Court: “I still battle with my emotions, particularly about the termination.”

Gezi was initially jailed for seven years and eight months but his sentence was raised to ten years because of the “heinous abuse of trust he committed”.

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

“This case highlights the danger of removing making changes to abortion law to remove almost all legal safeguards around, which is something all four of Labour’s leadership candidates have called for. This would make it much easier for people sexually abusing children to get hold of abortion pills. While the the next Labour Party leader will not be in power , we must remain vigilant as it is likely they will support attempting to hijack the Government’s planned Domestic Abuse Bill with such an extreme abortion amendment. 

“Taking abortion outside criminal law will not only remove effectively all legal protections for unborn babies, allowing abortion for any reason up to birth but would make many incidents of abuse like these far easier to cover up”

‘Abortion skills’ training could be forced upon pro-life students in the UK

Pro-life medical students who want to protect unborn babies from terminations could be forced to learn “abortion skills” under new proposals.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has released a report stating its intention to teach and assess “abortion skills” as part of its core curriculum but made no mention of any provision for conscientious objection.

In its Better for Women report, the College says “the General Medical Council (GMC) should review the Undergraduate medical curriculum to include the importance of abortion care to students.

“The RCOG will teach abortion skills as a part of its core curriculum and assess those skills through examination.”

All doctors who practise medicine in the UK must be registered with the GMC, meaning if the proposals are adopted, pro-life medical students could be forced to sit through undefined “abortion skills” training or risk losing their membership of the medical body.

In 2016, an inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group found that UK doctors who do not wish to participate in abortion procedures are often refused the right to conscientious objection.

Fiona Bruce MP, who chairs the APPG, said: “This report reveals concerning evidence of doctors and other healthcare professionals being harassed, abused, and denied career choices, as a result of seeking to exercise their legal right to conscientiously object to being involved in the abortion process.”

Later that year, it emerged only 1% of trainee obstetricians and gynaecologists were taking higher training in abortion.

The document also outlines other extreme proposals:

  • A commitment to continue working with partner organisations [likely abortion clinics such as BPAS and Marie Stopes International] to advocate for the decriminalisation of abortion up to 24 weeks across the UK (page 16).
  •  The rollout of ‘facetime abortions’ across the UK allowing abortion consultations to take place over the phone or Facetime/Skype, rather than face-to-face (page 149).
  • The Government should “consider allowing” women to take the first powerful drug used to cause a non-surgical abortion at home, away from medical supervision and oversight. The second drug is already allowed to be taken at home (page 15).
  • Governments throughout the UK “must legislate” to introduce buffer zones around abortion clinics – which will prevent pro-life help from being offered to those who need it most (page 16).

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said:

“The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists claims its proposals are ‘Better for women’ through its title, but the reality is the opposite.

“The RCOG’s report, with its misleading title, makes a number of troubling proposals that are worse, not just for women and unborn babies, but also for medical students.   

“The extremely low number of trainee obstetricians and gynaecologists who were taking higher training in abortion likely reflects an innate human reluctance to destroy life. Such doctors should continue to have their rights to conscientiously object to abortions protected.   

 “Rather, this is another attempt to trivialise the ending of a life and to rush women and teenage girls through the abortion process, while providing less medical supervision and support for women. 

“The RCOG should instead 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 these changes are the UK’s two big abortion providers.

“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.” 

Nursing student born at 23-weeks bravely speaks out against abortion up-to-birth proposal

Sophie Powell abortion to birth

Twenty year old nursing student second-year, Sophie Proud, who was born at 23 weeks, bravely spoke out at the UK Royal College of Nursing Congress today in a debate on the ‘merits’ of introducing abortion up-to-birth.

“I would like to draw your attention to a specialist field within children’s nursing: neonatology. One sentence within the Act says that abortion can take place up until the 24th week of pregnancy. I was born at 23 weeks, 20 years ago, and I believe that this should be looked at. I realise that without extensive medical intervention, I would not be standing here today. The viability of a foetus needs to be considered as I am living proof that there is a potential for a baby to survive before 24 weeks. The survival rates are higher now than they were 20 years ago thanks to medical advances.”

Sophie Proud, who was born at 23 weeks in 1996, was one of the youngest premature babies ever to survive at the time when she was born in April 1996 weighing just 1lb 9oz – around the same as a bag of sugar. Her twin died at birth.

Whilst there is a 24 week time limit on Ground C and D abortions (which are invoked largely for social reasons), there is no time limit for abortions in England, Wales and Scotland if the baby is thought to have a disability.

The debate at the RCN congress centred around the ‘decriminalistion’ of abortion, which would allow abortions to take place up until the moment of birth, for any reason whatsoever.

Sophie articulately demonstrates that scientific advances in recent years have made a mockery of the 24-week limit in the UK.

Her speech also reflects broader public opinion. A 2012 Angus Reid poll found only 2% of women wanted the time limit extended beyond 24 weeks, in contrast with 59% of women who favoured a reduction in time limits.

It also follows the widespread public outcry earlier this year after the president of the Royal College of Midwives, Cathy Warwick, (who is also the chair of UK abortion provider BPAS) signed-up the membership of the RCM to a campaign supporting abortion up-to-birth for any reason.