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Marie Stopes headquarters in central London
Steve Weatherbe

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Top UK pro-life groups join forces for first time in bid to shut down abortion provider

Steve Weatherbe

UNITED KINGDOM, March 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The British government should shut down Marie Stopes International’s chain of 70 abortuaries, according to an historic joint petition launched by the country’s two leading pro-life organizations.

After a Daily Mail reporter uncovered questionable practices at MSI clinics, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children and the pro-life organization Life called on the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt to revoke MSI’s licence to perform abortions. In addition, Life called for a review of how abortion agencies are following the law.

SPUC executive director John Smeaton said, “If true, these allegations are nothing less than a scandal.”

The Daily Mail expose last week follows an investigation of MSI last year by the government’s Care Quality Commission.

The Daily Mail reported that MSI clinics were flouting the Abortion Act of 1967. On paper, abortions are permitted only when they are medically required and when two doctors attest to this. But the Daily Mail revealed that clinic staff treat the legal requirement as a mere formality and rush patients so quickly through the procedure they feel like they are on a “conveyor belt.”

The Life-SPUC petition reads in part, “In view of their appalling treatment of women, and recognizing that every abortion takes the life of an unborn baby, Life and SPUC call on the Secretary of State for Health to withdraw from MSI their licence to carry out abortions.”

The petition is the first-ever joint effort by Britain’s two foremost pro-life organizations.

“The movement here as in other countries has been somewhat fractured,” Smeaton said. “Combining our organizational forces gives the pro-life movement a new sense of strength and a synergy we need in our fight with the culture of death.”

SPUC has focused on political action and Life emphasized helping women in need, but there was some overlap and some difference in their approaches.

“We see the importance of what unites us: our opposition to killing babies, to killing the elderly, to corrupting children,” Smeaton said. “All the evils that are now so rampant. It behooves us to fight this common enemy together.”

The Daily Mail expose ran verbatim a telephone conversation between a reporter posing as a pregnant woman and an intake worker. The intake worker assured the reporter that the required approval by two doctors was a mere formality and she was not required to meet a doctor in person. The intake worker also changed the reporter’s reason for the abortion to “emotional” to satisfy the law.

The undercover story was supported by another story recounting a woman’s experience seeking abortion counseling and by a firsthand account written by a doctor who worked for MSI in 2010.

Both conveyed a picture of an organization focused on maximizing customer volume and profits.

Life education director Anne Scanlan said, “It is understandable that the abortion industry wants to maximize profit. … But it is the duty of the government to [prevent] agencies funded by the public purse from profiting off of the plight of women.”

Scanlan’s organization has issued a formal request to the health minister to investigate how the Abortion Act is being followed, not only at MSI but at Britain’s other large-scale aborter, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service. The BPAS runs 40 abortion clinics nationwide.

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Scanlan said the process revealed by the Daily Mail made a “mockery” of the law.

“How can doctors be deemed to be acting in good faith when without any mental health training or ever setting eyes on patients, they conclude that the continuation of their pregnancy will affect their mental health?” Scanlan asked.

Smeaton blamed the government for allowing Marie Stopes to flout the law by justifying 98 percent of abortions on mental health grounds.

“The Department of Health and the CQC disregard the law and thousands of women are mis-certified for abortion,” Smeaton said.

"It is a matter of fact that 98 percent of abortions are certified on mental health grounds when the government's own evidence shows that there's no real risk to the woman's mental or physical health if she has the baby. In these circumstances, these abortions are illegal.”

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