A government inspection has found that the United Kingdom’s largest abortion chain, Marie Stopes International (MSI), was coercing women to abort and violating safety procedures, leading them to suspend nearly half of the abortions they were performing. More than 2,600 violations were found, according to inspectors.
The inspections were detailed in a report published in December by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The report included a letter from the Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, stating that in order to avoid “urgent enforcement action” by the CQC, Marie Stopes voluntarily agreed to:
- “Suspension of the termination of pregnancy for children and young people under age 18 and those aged 18 and over who are vulnerable, to include those with a learning disability,
- “Suspension of all terminations using general anesthesia or conscious sedation.
- “Suspension of all surgical terminations at the Norwich Center.”
In particular, the report found that at the Norwich Clinic, “Only 40 percent of the center staff had received consent training. None of the staff had received safeguarding training at level 3. This meant that we were not assured that staff taking consent had the appropriate knowledge, skills and competence to support patients who may be vulnerable or lack capacity to make a decision.” Further, the report also found that doctors at the clinic were pre-signing batches of approval forms for abortions without seeing patients beforehand, and that forms were signed by assistants without being countersigned by a physician, violating policies.
The report also described a case in which a woman with a learning disability was given an abortion even though “consent to treatment was not carried out in a way they could understand and we observed the situation was poorly and insensitively handled by doctors.”
One woman, Jade Stevens, who visited a MSI clinic seven times before ultimately continuing her pregnancy, told the Daily Mail:
“I saw several nurses and explained my situation. I felt like they wanted me to have an abortion. The place was chock-a-block with people. It is all about money. They are not counseling people properly. …
“It was like a conveyor belt. Some [women] were really upset, they were crying but there was no support for them. … It was one in, and literally five minutes later, another one in. They were doing it so quickly.
“Part of me wanted to have an abortion and part didn’t. When I told them I didn’t want the abortion they accused me of wasting their time. I was ushered out of the door half-dressed and in tears.”
Putting Women at Risk
Sadly, the experience of women at MSI is not an aberration. Research and anecdotal evidence shows that for many pregnant women or girls, abortion is presented as the only answer, especially if they are young, struggling financially, unmarried, disabled, abused, or in any other way seen as unready to have a child. Those whom the woman relies on for support or advice may insist that abortion is her only option and refuse to support any other decision. She may face the real possibility of losing her partner, family, home, livelihood or education. In some cases, she may even be assaulted or killed for refusing to abort.
A survey of women who had abortions found that 64 percent of American respondents reported being pressured by others to abort, and more than half reported being uncertain or feeling rushed into the decision.
Further, several studies of maternal deaths rates found that homicide was the leading cause of death among pregnant women and that the risk of abuse increases during pregnancy, so it would make sense to at least attempt to find out if the abuser is also pushing for abortion, as has happened in many cases. Yet abortion advocates and businesses have sought to stop common-sense laws that would hold abortion providers accountable for failing to screen women for coercion.
Finally, abortion counselors and others withhold information from women and their companions about fetal development, alternatives to abortion and the resources available to her, and published medical studies showing increased physical and psychological problems following abortion.
Despite research showing that most women want all the information about risks conveyed to them for elective medical procedures, including abortion, the survey of women who aborted found that most said they were not given adequate counseling (with 67 percent reporting they were not counseled at all). Withholding such information is a form of coercion or negligence, and prevents women from making a free, fully-informed choice about abortion. But again, abortion advocates and businesses have opposed any effort to ensure that they are giving women this basic information.
To combat this, the Elliot Institute’s model screening legislation would hold abortion clinics accountable for failing to screen women for coercion and other factors that put them at risk for psychological problems after abortion.
Wanted and Coercion: Key Factors in Understanding Women’s Mental Health and Abortion
Conscience Leads to More Complete Support for Women
Empower Women, Not the State
“This Wasn’t Really Counseling At All:” Raising Questions About “Choice” and Pre-Abortion Counseling
Disclosure and Coercion: Concealing Relevant Information Is “An Act of Coercion”
Forced Abortion in America: A Special Report
Special Report on Coercion Inside the Abortion Industry
Forced to Abort? Don’t Count on Clinics to Help