Caroline Farrow: Marie Stopes should lose its abortion licence

One might have thought that having been lambasted by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for bad practice last year, Marie Stopes International (MSI), the UK’s second largest abortion provider, might have cleaned up its act.

It seems not. To recap, the failures discovered at MSI last August were so severe as to merit a temporary suspension of all abortions for the under 18s and women officially recorded as vulnerable (such as those with learning difficulties), a temporary suspension of all surgery requiring anaesthesia and sedation (ouch), and temporary closure of its Norfolk clinic.

MSI’s response to the damning catalogue of failure was to attempt to pretend that this was all one big misunderstanding which was nothing more than a red tape snarl-up that didn’t endanger patient safety in the slightest. Its spokesman issued a huffy statement, expressing surprise about the ‘timing and tone of the announcement’.

How dare the inspectors put the safety of women above the reputation of Marie Stopes and undermine the sacrosanct notion that wherever abortion is legal, women are safe and protected from the horrors of backstreet butchery?

In December 2016, the CQC issued a series of 12 damning reports cataloguing the litany of failures at MSI which had led to the temporary suspension of services. There could be no room for claims that this was just about paperwork, as MSI had previously implied. Marie Stopes was operating its own chamber of horrors. Inspectors found foetal tissue (let’s call a spade a spade here - baby parts) from a succession of abortions left in open waste bins, leaving patients open to the risk of infection.

In another incident, inspectors were forced to intervene when a patient with learning difficulties became distressed because she didn’t understand what was going on when MSI staff were attempting to perform an abortion on her. Staff weren’t trained to respond to patients whose condition was deteriorating and achieved poor results when resuscitation simulations were carried out. In other words, they didn’t have a clue and, had the situation been real, the woman would most likely have passed away. Basic surgery checklists weren’t followed. In the Kent clinic, inspectors found failings in infection control systems, with poor hand hygiene and failures in pre-surgical preparation.

When it comes to the paperwork, at the Norwich clinic which was temporarily closed, doctors were found to be bulk signing up to 60 abortion forms at a time with little indication that they were familiar with a patient’s situation. Inspectors who visited Marie Stopes’s HQ found poor risk management, insufficient monitoring of consent and limited clinical oversight of the ‘charity’s’ 60 clinics.

Comforting stuff. You wouldn’t have sent your dog there. After an emergency mop up, whereupon staff were trained in resuscitation, consent and governance, MSI was again allowed to continue operating restricted services with the CQC promising to keep a weather eye on them and monitor them very closely.

The CQC stuck to their word, and carried out another surprise inspection, and guess what, once again, Marie Stopes International, that bastion of safe legal abortion, was caught with its pants down once more – treating its vulnerable patients like nothing more than slabs of meat.

In the two-month period that they were inspected, between January and February this year, almost 400 women had abortions which failed, meaning that either some or all of the baby was left behind – requiring them to go back to hospital for further treatment. Between October and December in 2016, 11 women needed to be admitted to A&E as an emergency immediately after receiving ‘treatment’ at MSI, one of whom needed surgery and another two blood transfusions.

Consent issues still prevailed - consent from one patient to have an abortion was only actually obtained after she’d had it! The staff were still as incompetent as ever, inspectors discovered that they weren’t trained to identify complications during scans, a nurse at the Manchester clinic was unregistered, there was no official system for checking their performance, and reassuringly surgeons weren’t washing their hands between operations. Lovely. Unsurprisingly, there was no evidence of improved checks to combat the  risk of infection. Staff in the Essex clinic, which is on the borders of East London, where there is a high proportion of immigrants, decided to ignore inspectors’ previous advice about being trained in matters such as female genital mutilation, child sexual exploitation and anti-radicalisation schemes. Those things take up the valuable time that could be spent aborting more babies!

Still, it’s obviously difficult for MSI to find the staff. One managing director who began in January 2017 left just two months later (perhaps he had a weak stomach) and key jobs in infection control, safety and a medical directorship were left unfilled.

Let’s not forget that MSI derive around £83 million of taxpayers’ hard-earned cash. Around £37 million of that goes on providing 60,000 abortions in the UK every year on behalf of the NHS, and another £46 million goes on contraceptive and abortion ‘services’ in the developing world, paid for the Department for International Development. Just let that sink in.

Now, if MSI can’t be trusted with women’s health and safety in a Western country, how on earth can it be trusted with hygiene and consent in remote parts of the developing world, such as in rural Africa, where the infrastructure is poor, running water and medical supplies are scarce and, thanks to poor transport links, they will be operating pop-up clinics? Who on earth is going to be regulating them and ensuring that they are compliant? Not the CQC, that’s for sure.

The other thing to bear in mind is that come the autumn, we’re going to see a resurgence of the abortion lobby attempting to push both for full decriminalisation of abortion for any reason up until birth and also for the introduction of US-style buffer zones to stop the handful of mainly elderly religious people who stand on the other side of the road from the abortion facilities with their rosaries. Is this really what Ireland, which is currently considering whether or not to legalise abortion, wants to introduce into their country? MSI already has one clinic in Belfast and, desperate to get a slice of the Irish market, is deeply invested in the campaign. Shouldn’t the feminists who are so eager to bring abortion onto their shores acknowledge where the real threat to life and health is coming from?

One can only imagine the horrors that MSI will get up to if it is allowed to abort babies up until birth for any reason. You can see why they might want to. More business and it does away with this pesky notion of consent and the time-consuming notion of getting doctors to actually meet with and talk to a woman to check that abortion is actually appropriate in her situation. One thing I didn’t mention was that in March this year, media investigations separate to the CQC inspections, uncovered that MSI was signing off abortions after a 22-second phone call and for women it had never met.

The reason that the abortion facilities (let’s not call them clinics, it implies they perform a needed medical service) don’t want people outside them, is because it’s the pro-lifers who not only witness the numerous ambulances turning up on site, but also literally pick up vomiting and distressed women off the pavement and give them the first aid and assistance they require. They also help women who may be undecided to change their mind and think again, along with the resources that these desperate pregnant women need.

The chutzpah is unbelievable and proves the old adage in political campaigning, that attack is the best form of defence. We shouldn’t let them get away with it. MSI should have its licence to perform abortions revoked and it should not receive another penny of taxpayers’ money. A petition was delivered to the Department of Health last week, containing 16,000 signatures to this effect. It’s not too late to sign it. 

Caroline Farrow

  • Busy Mum

    The real betrayal is that women have been led by the govt into thinking that legalised abortion justifies the fornication that landed them in this situation in the first place.

    As long as women are living licentious lives, enslaved by their bodies and the ‘lusts of their flesh’, Marie Stopes couldn’t care less about the consequences.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Which is, on a different level, why the so-called ‘street pastors’ are actually a fail. All they do is pick ’em up out of the gutter, help ’em get home safely, so they can go back out and do it again another night – personal responsibility by the ‘night-outers’ towards themselves is thus helpfully (from their view) parked.

      • Busy Mum

        Indeed – street pastors seem to be more about feeding their self-righteousness than saving fellow-sinners.

        • Dominic Stockford

          That’s a very good way to put it. By the way, so pleased to find someone else who has thought about the issue, and then agrees with me. I really don’t want to be the only one marching in step….!

      • John Thomas

        Sure, many of those ‘night outers’ probably do just what you say … but what about the 1% that don’t, that see/learn something new, that discover that there are some people out there who actually care for them – called “Christians” – care enough to patrol mean streets at night to at least offer help … ? If Street Pasors have saved (in our Christian sense) just one person out of hundreds, have they not been worth while? (Alternatively, one could just be one of those Christians who stay in bed and tell themselves that the drunken sots only have themselves to blame …). But yes, Dom, you have to think about/examine/look critically at everything, I’m all for that …

        • Dominic Stockford

          Hmmm. There’s a balanced comment, without ad hominem implications.

          • The Duke of Umberland, England

            Good show, Stockford.

            A gentleman’s noble response.

            Admirable.

    • Phil R

      Let’s be clear here. M Stopes are in business to provide abortions in return for money. For that reason alone they cannot act impartially

      • The Duke of Umberland, England

        You are correct.

        The Left’s thesis, that we are progressing has collapsed: money in exchange for the killing of babies.

        How utterly repugnant.

    • Fern

      According to Department of Health data, 55% of those having abortions in 2016 had at least one child while 70% were either married or in a relationship. The reasons why women seek abortions vary hugely – contraceptive failure, struggling economically, already coping with a child with a disability or long-term illness etc etc. Women don’t need to be living ‘licentious lives’ to seek an abortion to deal with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. Not every relationship is equally robust and many women know that the arrival of another child will cause their particular family structure to collapse or damage it so severely that all members of it, including existing children, will suffer.

      • Busy Mum

        ‘Had at least one child’ ‘married’ ‘in a relationship’…all pretty meaningless phrases nowadays, and all can now be indicative of an unstable lifestyle.

        Whatever the reason or motive, there is no reason at all why other people should have to pay for these women to sort out their problems. Women would be a lot more careful about their sleeping habits – when and with whom – if they had to foot the bill themselves. An unplanned and/or unwanted pregnancy doesn’t come from nowhere, you know!

      • John Thomas

        Surely it’s better to have bad parents, poverty, etc. etc. than … NO life at all … Do you not believe that life (any kind of life) is better than no life at all? Whether the mothers are “licentious” or virtuous victims matters not a thing – irrelevant – to the victim, the person whose life is not being allowed to proceed.

        • The Duke of Umberland, England

          Aye.

          If there is no right to life, then all other rights are meaningless.

          What now, for the Left and its argument for a single, solitary, right?

  • The killing of unborn children for convenience is one of the corner stones of “progressive” dogma. Any attack on a woman’s unanimous right to kill her and her partner’s unborn offspring is sacrilege to this godless religion. It makes me sick that my money is taken by the state to fund it!

    • Dominic Stockford

      There’s only one party opposed to it, and that’s the Christian Party, Unsurprisingly we’re tiny.

      • The Duke of Umberland, England

        You shall grow.

  • Phil R

    It is quite simple

    1. I object to my money being used to fund murder.

    2. The evidence is that the outcomes for the mother are better if the child is born on a number of indicators.

    3. Rape etc account for only 0.2% of abortions.

    • Fred Uttlescay

      Nobody is funding murder.

      • The Duke of Umberland, England

        We are funding the killing of our neighbours.

        Is that not so?

  • The Duke of Umberland, England

    Madam,

    What the blazes is going on?

    Why are we funding this racist eugenicist Marie Stopes?

  • Politically__Incorrect

    We can safely presume that the failure to revoke MSI’s licence is based on politics, not on the evidence. I suspect that the abortion industry feels so protected by the establishment it can safely ignore basic medical practices and decent behaviour. It is all vile, sickening, and a matter of great national shame that we not only encourage the mass culling of unborn children but those women who choose this destructive path are treated with no more compassion than the person being ripped to pieces inside them.