Charitable? Call me Bernard.

The Right to Know campaign released a report yesterday with evidence highlighting the theme of this blog for quite some time, namely that abortion providers are in this for the profit.

Here are some salient figures:

In 1991 the NHS funded 9,197 abortions carried out by the private sector.

By 2010 that figure had risen to 111,775 – an increase of over 1100%.

In 1991 the NHS funded 10% of abortions carried out by the private sector.

By 2010 that figure had risen to 93%.

In 1991 the NHS funded 84,369 abortions.

By 2010 that figure had more than doubled to 181,304.

The growth of NHS-funded but privately provided abortions entirely accounted for this increase.

As noted last week, BPAS’s statement of aims to the Charity Commission outlines its wishes to extend both the scope and the amount of its NHS contracts; in its Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2009-2010 it notes the following achievements:

• “The attainment of an additional 2,400 NHS procedures in calendar year 2009 compared to 2008.

• An increase of more than 3,000 procedures at less than 9 weeks gestation in calendar year 2009 compared to 2008.

• A key role in the development of DH policy regarding the commission and provision of abortion services.”

The Business Plan for 2010-2011 sets out the following:

Our key aim is to:

Develop further our use of the internet and multimedia to market services.

Identify opportunities and develop strategies for expansion…

Generate a surplus of £2m, before depreciation and refurbishment costs, to support further investment in our services, and move towards reinstating a cash reserve.

All seems very business-like to me. It’s all about growing a business, absolutely nothing different there from the stuff you’d read in the annual accounts of any PLC. The report also contains descriptions of free marketing materials handed out to doctors surgeries as well the copy of a job description for a Business Development Manager. Their primary responsibility would be to “promote the growth of business and income generation within the region” and to “actively source and develop new business (private and NHS). Other duties include “to undertake local marketing and public relations activities” and to “work in conjunction with the Business Development department to meet business needs”. The successful candidate should ideally posses “A diploma and experience in sales and marketing”.

The word charity is conspicuously absent, not appearing once in the job specification. For all of the whining that these are charities motivated by altruism, not the dirty word of “profit”, it would seem that BPAS doesn’t even think of itself as a charity, the language being purely corporate speak. It’s about brand, marketing and image as drivers for new business.

Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with charities organising themselves around business models, in fact it makes sense to ensure that you have your marketing and finances in order to maximise revenue streams. Private schools often take a lot of criticism for their charitable status, as like BPAS and MSI they are not-for-profit. It is recognised that private schools are run as businesses, for the benefit of the institution in order to be self-sustaining for many years into the future. The difference is that an argument may be made for the public benefit of private schools. The parents of pupils who attend private schools effectively pay double for their child’s education, both in school fees and in taxes and remove the burden of the cost from the state. Private schools also now have to demonstrate how they benefit the wider community and so facilities must be made available to state schools and more scholarships and bursaries available to those who would not otherwise be able to benefit.

Without getting into an ideological debate about the public/private school system, there is at least a case that might be made for private schools to retain their charitable status. I fail to see how any sort of case might be made in the case of BPAS or MSI. What public benefit do they provide? They don’t offer free abortions to those who are unable to access the NHS for whatever reason, the vast majority of their abortions are paid for by the NHS, they are simply an organisation to whom the NHS outsource. Why does the NHS outsource in this way? The answer is that fewer and fewer doctors wish to be involved in performing abortion and exercise their right of conscientious objection, something that the previous government tried its hardest to overturn.

Their aims are to increase the numbers of those having abortions on a year on year basis. How on earth may that be said to be in the public benefit, unless of course you are some sort of eugenicist. BPAS are profiting from human misery. “Oh but they provide other services too, like contraception”. And what happens when the contraception invariably fails, where will the user come back to?

Laurie Penny asks why profit is an unacceptable vested interest when it comes to the provision of healthcare services? Because this is women’s lives and the lives of their unborn children. Because, unlike in other situations, the client needs to make a choice whether to accept intervention or not. In almost every case the woman will not die from lack of intervention.A woman facing an unplanned pregnancy needs care and support, not coercion and sales messages. Whatever she does this is going to have an impact on the rest of her life and thus if she is confused about what course of action she should take, no organisation which stands to make money from one particular outcome should be in the position of advising her. Besides which the issue of abortion is a cross-party one, there are many who feel that private providers should play no part in the NHS.

As an aside, Lord Alton is currently lobbying the government in order to ascertain precisely how much money is spent outsourcing abortions to private providers every year. The government say they have no idea as to the figures, they have not kept any records. If these figures are published, they should make very interesting reading.

Not everyone is motivated by profit but no doubt Ann Furedi’s salary package is commensurate with her helping BPAS to achieve their stated aims in expanding the number of abortions carried out every year and generating a £2 million profit. It can hardly be surprising that they are vehemently opposing any measures that might reduce their revenue streams.

It’s amazing what passes as charity these days. What is clear is that for BPAS the word charity means nothing more than a favourable tax status, one that is highly dubious, given that BPAS exists simply to sustain itself and grow its business to abort ever increasing numbers of unborn children. A business that seeks to take taxpayers money to provide “healthcare” , a business who has rid itself of an unprofitable pension scheme, a business who seeks to make a £2 million profit, off the back of women’s misery, none of which will be spent on providing any sort of free services, is a charity? It’s as much a charity as I am an ordained Catholic priest called Bernard.

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