In UK, abortion clinic inspections have consequences
London, England, Aug 24, 2016 / 12:39 am (CNA/EWTN News) - British inspectors have barred some abortions at Marie Stopes International due to concerns about safety and informed consent for abortion.
Clara Watson, a spokeswoman for the Life charity that helps women in crisis pregnancies, said the move calls into question about the safety of the abortion providers’ clinics around the world.
“It is absolutely scandalous that Marie Stopes International, which likes to talk about women dying from unsafe abortions, is itself being rapped for exposing patients to potential harm,” Watson said, according to the Catholic Herald. “This is not the first time that Marie Stopes clinics have been in the news.”
In 2015, a doctor and two nurses were charged with manslaughter when a 32-year-old woman from Dublin died hours after undergoing an abortion at a west London Marie Stopes clinic in January 2012.
The England Care Quality Commission (CQC) said that its routine inspections of clinics prompted the concerns. It made unannounced inspections of Marie Stopes International’s corporate headquarters in England and then its call center, the U.K. newspaper The Guardian reports.
The commission said it raised concerns about the provider’s corporate and clinical governance arrangements and patient safety protocols.
It said that there were not adequate protocols to ensure girls under 18 and other vulnerable women could give informed consent, so Marie Stopes must stop performing abortions on these women. It has also suspended any abortions carried out under general anesthetic or sedation after 12 weeks into pregnancy.
The care commission’s action drew further response from pro-life advocates.
“Abortion is always destructive of the lives of unborn children, but when prosecuted as it has been by some abortionists, it can leave women scarred as well,” said Peter D. Williams, executive officer at Right to Life U.K.
He said he hopes the commission action can open a debate about under-regulation of abortion in the U.K., the Catholic Herald reports.
Prof. Edward Baker, the deputy chief inspector of hospitals at the Care Quality Commission, explained the commission action.
“We believe that the action taken is appropriate to address our concerns. We will continue to monitor these services very closely and we will not hesitate to take further action, if needed,” he said Aug. 19.
Baker added that the commission’s priority is “to ensure that patients get safe, high-quality and compassionate care.”
Marie Stopes International chief executive Simon Cooke said its U.K. branch agreed to suspend some abortions voluntarily. He said the suspension would allow the branch “to resolve areas of concern in its training and governance procedures.”
About 250 women per week who would normally seek an abortion through Marie Stopes are now going elsewhere, including to the U.K.’s largest abortion provider, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.
The Marie Stopes abortions can only begin again once it assures inspectors that it has made the required changes. The restrictions also apply to the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast.
However, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children charged that the abortions are already illegal under laws it says permits abortion only when there is a health risk.
“Pregnant women are suffering intolerably,” charged Paul Tully, the society’s general secretary. “The CQC is defending illegal government abortion policy which kills children and sometimes women too. Women are not being offered proper support when facing difficulties in pregnancy - simply being channeled into the abortion industry funded by the Department of Health.”
“Abortion is an inherently risky interference in the natural pregnancy process,” he said.
Previous oversight of U.K. abortion clinics found that clinics were side-stepping a requirement that two doctors approve each individual abortion. Some clinics had doctors pre-sign the required paperwork so that in effect only one doctor gave approval for an individual abortion case.