Marie Stopes’ ‘professionalism’

It’s worth reading yesterday’s Parliamentary debate on late term abortions here, * if you have not already done so. Nadine Dorries will undoubtedly and some would say deservedly, get it in the neck from all sides with regards to her point of view.

What is very clear is that Nadine is not what we would traditionally describe as pro-life as she supports quick and easy early abortion. Furthermore she professes to have no issue with Marie Stopes, praising them in fulsome terms for caring about the health of the woman, for being ‘professional’ and ‘non-advocacy driven’, when questioned about their presence in Northern Ireland.

That’s something that I would take issue with, my personal experience of Marie Stopes is not a positive one. I don’t think a friend of mine would agree with that assessment either. She aborted a much-wanted child on the grounds of foetal abnormality. Marie Stopes gave her a very bleak one-sided analysis of the baby’s prognosis which affected her decision. Had she known then, what she knows now about the condition and the huge amount of support available then she would have made an entirely different choice. Furthermore they botched the procedure itself, when she rang them up shortly afterwards bleeding and in agony they told her that what she was experiencing was normal. It was only when she collapsed in agony some months later and was admitted to A&E that she discovered that she had significant cervical scarring that required corrective surgery which could leave her infertile. Fortunately she has gone on to have another beautiful child, but no thanks to Marie Stopes. Significantly, because these complications occurred after leaving their premises, they do not count towards the official statistics that abortion providers compile regarding complications resulting from surgery. Another of her criticisms is that the staff at Marie Stopes were rude, cold, clinical and perfunctory and lacking in all compassion.

In terms of  Marie Stopes’ operation in Belfast, what is clear is that they are operating on the very boundaries of the law – the Northern Ireland Committee for Justice are currently investigating and require assurances that the clinic will work within the existing legal framework, which actually prohibits abortion in the vast majority of circumstances.

Professional and non-advocacy driven? Here they are admitting to performing illegal abortions around the world.

Of equal concern is Marie Stopes’ involvement in India, delivering ‘Population Health Services’, where forced abortion and illegal abortion on the grounds of gender is rife. According to the film-makers of itsagirlmovie, the film I saw hosted by Lord Alton in Parliament earlier this week, doctors are never prosecuted for providing illegal ultrasounds to ascertain the gender of a baby, nor for providing the illegal gender-selective abortions. Men are not prosecuted for crimes of violence against their wives, such as beating them because they have failed to provide a son, or for violently coercing them into an abortion. Dr Mutu Khurana is still fighting for justice, 7 years after her husband pushed her down the stairs when she was 7 months pregnant with her twin girls after refusing to abort them. The doctor who surreptiously performed the illegal ultrasound has yet to be prosecuted and Dr Khurana has faced death threats for pursuing her case. She reported how one medic threatened to rape her if she would not agree to keep her silence. This is not a problem restricted to the poorer strata of society either. Reggie LittleJohn, founder of Women without Frontiers, described how even educated and rich families still resort to female foeticide. The reason being that the more money a family has, the more that has to be given away via the dowry system, laws against which are not enforced. One has to wonder, what Marie Stopes is doing, funded by the UK government in terms of the UN development fund and the UK Department for International development, operating in a country where respect for women and their rights is non-existent. Far from being non-agenda driven, they are complicit in furthering gendercide, even if, as they would claim, it is unwitting.

Serious questions also have to be asked as to what on earth Marie Stopes thinks it is doing operating in China, again funded by the UK Department for International Development, partnering Chinese population and family planning commissions. China is one of the countries where the greatest abuse of womens’ rights occurs. We heard from women who had been rounded up by the family planning police and given forced abortions. One woman told of how she hid behind the door, heart thumping as the police, who act upon tip-offs given by paid informants, raided her home. The police did not find her, however due to having committed the crime of having three children, her and her husband were forced to leave their village, splitting up their children amongst relatives and now work in one of China’s notorious factories to send enough money for their keep. They now see their children once a year. Reggie Littlejohn also told of how workers in Chinese factories are routinely forced to have a monthly strip-search by their supervisors in order to prove they are not pregnant. If they refuse they are taken to hospital for a check and if they refuse such a check they are fired. Any women found to be pregnant are forced to abort.

Regardless of one’s views of Nadine Dorries’ campaign to reduce the limit, one has to admire her passion and unyielding determination to end the cruelty of late-term abortion. The problem is, that if we are going to correctly  frame abortion in term’s of womens’ rights then we cannot praise an organisation that does so much to blight the lives of women and their babies around the globe. Marie Stopes, like BPAS, are ideological,  advocacy-driven, operate on the margins of the law and are complicit in the devaluation and destruction of women worldwide. If they truly cared, they would not operate in these areas where gendercide is such a problem, let alone collude with governments who are driving the agenda.

The only qualification for calling Marie Stopes professional is the way they abort unborn babies with such ruthless efficiency. Their presence in any country is an enormous blow for women’s rights. I’d like to see the next debate discuss why taxpayers should fund such atrocities.

* NB It’s also worth looking at the remarks of Diane Abbot who claims that it is “not right to talk about coerced abortion”, obviously a head in sand approach is best. Fiona Bruce, vice-chair of the all-party Parliamentary pro-life committee has called for an enquiry into foetal pain as well as an examination as to the effects of late-term abortion upon women. That seems to me to be an entirely sensible approach to this issue.