Intimidation & hate-crime at Ealing

For the past 22 years  a quiet pro-life vigil has taken place outside the Marie Stopes abortion clinic in Ealing, a vigil which, until the past couple of years went unnoticed. The police have been aware of the vigil since its inception and in 22 years there has not been a single arrest or charge laid against any of those attending.

What happens at this vigil is the usual type of thing – pro-life groups stand on the other side of the green, across the pavement from the clinic, praying for all inside, the pregnant women, their unborn children along with the staff themselves.

Pro-choice feminist protesters largely ignored what was going on in the quiet suburbs of Ealing largely because of its location. Ealing isn’t as easy to travel to as Bedford Square in central London, where up until 2013, BPAS operated a clinic which was previously the flashpoint in the abortion culture wars.

In fact the location of the Ealing clinic is fairly typical. Like the Marie Stopes facility in Buckhurst Hill, Essex, it is on the outskirts of London, in a picturesque converted suburban building with a discreet plaque, designed to look very attractive from the outside, blend in with the local community and distract from the horror within. Here’s a video of 40 Days for Life director Robert Colquhoun outlining the Christian history of the building. 


Abortion Ambulance 5 EMS 09 03 2013
An ambulance attending a medical emergency at Marie Stopes Ealing, a common sight
When I look back on my own experience of abortion, one of the many surreal moments was sitting in a beautiful high-ceiling room complete with ornate coving, elegant light-fittings and all-round exquisite decor while partaking of a selection of delicious sandwiches from a local delicatessan, laid on for women who had just taken the first of two doses of pills to bring about an abortion. It felt bizarre sitting there with a group of women all of whom were studiously avoiding eye-contact with each other or alternatively making superficial conversation like a scene from a period drama, while we were all there for the same reason. It’s one of the aspects which still haunts me. I sat there, in terribly salubrious surroundings, stuffing my face with cucumber sandwiches to alleviate the boredom and unease during the prescribed waiting time, while inside me the child was being slowly poisoned to death.

Marie Stopes had warned us in the literature that protestors may be outside both the central London clinic that I attended for the initial consultation and also the one in Buckhurst Hill, but there wasn’t a protestor to be seen, much to my chagrin. I’ve written about this before, but inside, I was aching for a fight and for someone, somewhere, to challenge me.

Despite the fact that the Good Counsel Network have been conducting vigil clinics for 20 years in the UK, (and other groups for longer) it was only since the arrival of 40DaysforLife in the UK, in 2011, that suddenly clinic vigils became an issue and burst into public consciousness, because clearly the abortion clinics don’t like them very much and they are able to swiftly harness and tap into the support of both pro-choice MPs and mainstream media.

The tactics of those who attend the vigils have never altered. Contrary to popular myth, they do not block the entrances of clinics, they do not follow women down the street, they don’t video women and they certainly don’t shout abuse at them. They stand quietly, a respectful distance away, carrying signs with offers of help and praying. One counselor stands slightly nearer offering passers-by a leaflet.

Ealing pro-lifers
Standing a respectful distance away from the Ealing, no blocking of entrances and no banners,  just prayer


Groups such as the Good Counsel Network and 40 Days for Life often get conflated with Abort 67, who display large banners of aborted foetuses outside clinics. Abort 67’s focus is not about prayer, but educating the public to the realities of abortion and they don’t just stand outside clinics but also in other public places, such as Speakers Corner in Hyde Park or outside the Department of Health.

In the age where smartphones are ubiquitous and where the abortion clinics have stationed cameras outside their facilities, not a shred of pictorial or video evidence has ever emerged to support the smears of harassment or intimidation by pro-life groups that do the rounds on social media. Andy Stephenson, the leader of Abort 67 was prosecuted, but the case collapsed. What Abort 67 do have, is cameras around their necks, strapped to their chests, to protect themselves against allegations of harassment and intimidation. So far the only footage to emerge is of members of the public challenging and threatening them, to the great acclaim of the public.

So anyway, back to Ealing where the pro-life vigil has taken place without incident for the past 22 years. The pro-lifers turn up every day, pray, give out leaflets, offer support and go home. Enraged by this, a group of pro-choice women calling themselves Sister Supporter have decided to pitch up every Saturday and put in a counter protest. They have been joined on occasion by Rupa Huq, the local MP for Ealing, who has decided to join this feminist cause celebre.


rupa huq pro-choice demo
Ealing MP Rupa Huq participating in a pro-choice demo in Ealing
Pro-Lifers, including Ms Huq’s own constituents have invited her many times to engage with the women, many of whom are immigrants or from ethnic minorities and who, as a result of the help and support given by the pro-life groups, have chosen not to abort their babies. These are pregnant women who approached the pro-lifers wary of their claims that they would really be able to help and found themselves given significant financial and other practical assistance  for as long they needed it. Women who did not qualify for any assistance or who would be presented by a bill by the NHS if they approached them for maternity care. In fact the only ‘choice’ that they were being given, was that of a free abortion. These are women are of all faiths and none who feel so empowered by the help that they were offered that they now join in the vigils, complete with infants in puschairs in an attempt to persuade others that there is another way. Ms Huq, has to date, refused to engage. 

Pro-lifers accept that they cannot have it both ways. A free and democratic society which affords them the right to ‘protest’ (although they would dispute that their prayer vigils and offers of assistance are in any way a protest), also confers identical rights to those on the pro-choice side of the debate.

But at what stage does this cross a line? Yesterday, a local group, calling themselves “Sister Supporter” posted triumphantly on their Facebook page, that they had disrupted pro-life activities at the nearby Ealing Abbey. The logic behind this being that many of those who attend the pro-life vigils attend Mass at Ealing Abbey. So in the twisted minds of Sister Supporter, this makes everyone who attends church there, accountable and a potential target for punitive action. The old guilt by association fallacy. 

Sister Supporter gleefully reported that they stood on the doorstep of Ealing Abbey, with the deliberate intent of intimidating church-goers, in order that they might experience how it feels. Despite the fact that those on a pro-life vigil, stand on the other side of the green across the pavement and do not block the doorway of the abortion clinic or obstruct anyone from entering or leaving. They then attacked church attenders for ‘sneakily’ using the rear entrance in order to avoid them.

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Not content with their acknowledged intimidation of people attending church, Sister Supporter said that they weren’t going to let the people leave ‘without a fight’. A religious pro-life procession was leaving the church, so this group ‘sprinted in front of them’, blocking the huge icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary being peacefully processed around the streets, with aggressive pro-choice and anti-Catholic inflammatory placards. 

Sister Supporter blocking parade
Sister Supporter’s photo on their public Facebook page, blocking the religious parade, conducted by members of Ealing Abbey (see monk in the background)

Judging from the photos, only a handful of protestors were present at this stage, compared to those who blockaded the church and later stood outside the clinic adjacent to the pro-life vigil, but here we have a group of people who, by their own admission were out to ‘intimidate’ religious believers by way of ‘retribution’. Firstly the aim of those on pro-life vigils is never to intimidate, but secondly, didn’t anyone ever teach these people that two wrongs don’t make a right? One of the pro-life counsellors on the vigil said that last week a ‘Sister Supporter’ tried jumping up and down in front of her, when she was handing a leaflet to a woman, admitting that her conduct amounted to harassment. “Yes, it is harassment” she cried, “now you know what it feels like!”

anti harassment
Except when it comes to Catholics trying to have a peaceful religious procession.
Also, how is expressly setting out to intimidate and blockade a group of people on account of their religious beliefs, not a hate crime or at the very least, a breach of the Public Order Act? How is this any different to those who would nail a slice of bacon to a mosque door? The procession which took place is purely religious procession and organisers tell me that there are no pro-life placards or slogans on display. I do hope that the Metropolitan police take note. Apparently last week, these women screamed Lily Allen’s “F*** You very very much” while people were praying stations of the cross.

pro-life 'march'
Here’s what the procession usually looks like, minus the ladies in high-vis pink jackets. It is an overtly religious, not political one. Note the presence of a monk and lack of any pro-life slogans.
Other points to note. Sister Supporter claim to have been set up by a ‘concerned local’ in many of their posts and back-stories, however when I attempted to comment on their post, my comments were instantaneously removed, accompanied by the comments that I am a ‘known homophobe who has upset one too many of my friends to be able to be given a platform here’. Which would indicate pro-choice activists, the same ones who organized outside Bedford Square a few years ago and who were befriended by the usual motley gang of trolls,  as opposed to an impromptu group of concerned local residents. They are also snowflakes if they can’t cope with a couple of perfectly civil questions or observations.


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Bless their little cotton socks.
One of the questions  I asked was why the comments in the thread used photographs of clinic protests that took place in America, not the UK, to justify their actions. Photographs which were subsequently removed, along with every comment which questioned their protest.  Every single photograph I have seen of the Ealing protest depicts people standing a decent and respectable distance away. The imagery which is  displayed is not that of aborted foetuses, but consists of 6 A4 laminated posters with images of unborn babies, which Sister Supporter has referred to as being ‘distressing and gross’.

Abortion Ambulance 6 EMS 14 03 2013
Here’s another photo of an ambulance called out to attend to a medical emergency at Marie Stopes. The A4 laminated photos are in the foreground. The location of the vigil, some distance away (the clinic is behind the ambulance) is also apparent.
Other posts mocked the attire of the pro-life women for wearing ‘long skirts and anoraks’. Shaming women for what they wear doesn’t seem to be very feminist. Unlike the recent anti-Trump demonstrations in which children were actively invited to participate, being exposed to foul language and filthy imagery, Sister Supporter ask that women do not bring their children along to their clinic protests. They don’t want to upset the clients inside. Although one might ask what the presence of children is related to a ‘non-human blob of tissue’ which is supposedly part of a woman’s body? A cynic might note that clients at Marie Stopes are far more likely to be irritated by a group of middle-class women belting out eighties music at the top of their lungs while they are having an abortion, than a few toddlers and children. One regular choice is “Give me all your money, all your hugs and kisses too” . Gallows humour suggests that this is grimly appropriate for a clinic charging about £700 for each woman’s baby they abort.

A regular pro-life attendee at Ealing  chuckles recounting that “one Saturday they were supporting women by singing, or rather ‘singing’ half-remembered lyrics of ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘If you like Pina Colada’. The latter was mostly ‘Yes I like Pina Colada, and getting caught in the rain. Yes I like making love at midnight…mumble mumble giggle’. While Dancing Queen was rendered ‘Dancing Queen, young and sweet only 17, ooo yeah, before tapering off into a slightly awkward ‘la la la”. There was also the woman who kept barking ‘she’ll be respecting women when she comes’, to the tune of ‘Coming Round the Mountain’. It’s like watching a drunk uncle do karaoke at a funeral.” Quite. Don’t woman deserve better. It’s no surprise that it’s actually this pink pantomime deterring women from attending Marie Stopes Ealing, (whose staff members egg on and encourage the pro-choice contingent) and why they want pro-lifers banned. Fewer women having an abortion can not be allowed to continue.

Sister Supporter
The Pink Pantomime Brigade. Womb raider? You may want to re-think that one.
Another regular attendee at Ealing reports this. “I have spoken to many ‘Sister Supporters’ outside the clinic. I asked them how they feel about those women for whom abortion is a matter of “no choice”

Some of them refused to believe that such women exist.

One openly mocked the story I told her of two women I know who had not wanted to have the abortion they were seeking and were helped to keep their babies by the GCN and who are mothers of lovely daughters now. She repeated in a sing song voice “and they all lived happily ever after…not”

So much for “pro choice”.

Another one kept interjecting when I was talking to three young Sister Supporters, repeatedly saying “Don’t talk to her, she’s a plant”.

Neither Sister Supporter, nor the clinics appear to be reaching out to women who feel so pressurised that they have no other choice than to abort. Women with no employment rights, no rights to benefits and no rights to obstetric care. These are women who are facing destitution if they have a baby, but whose plight Sister Supporter prefers to ignore and pretend they are invisible.

No doubt these women will be outraged to learn that so far during Lent, 17 (hopefully soon to be 18) woman have decided not to abort their babies and will mutter about manipulation. Women being persuaded to keep their babies rather than aborting them? That’s not the kind of choice which interests them, nor it would seem the general public, who  prefer fake news when it comes to persecuted women.

What’s changed since 1967?

women exploited by abortion
As true now as it was then

The abortion laws in this country are clearly in a mess. For the past eighteen months the media has confirmed what most people who have ever experienced an abortion know to be the case – namely that we have abortion on demand, with the provisions of the 1967 Abortion Act totally ignored.

Nothing better illustrates the ‘slippery slope’ argument than the story of the abortion narrative in the UK. Brought in under the auspices of compassion, in a misguided attempt to prevent the handful of tragic deaths resulting from illegal abortions in either unsanitary conditions and/or performed by unskilled amateurs, the Abortion Act nonetheless recognised the inherent right to life of the unborn child and prescribed a series of strict criteria under which abortion could be performed. Abortion was treated as such a serious matter that it required the signature of two separate doctors in order to prevent abuses and exploitation of vulnerable women. Two doctors were supposed to rigidly assess the medical facts presented before them and use their  judgement as qualified professionals as to the medical ethics of abortion in a particular given set of difficult circumstances.

The law that was brought in as a result of a determined pressure group, was designed to be strictly applied to a limited  number of women on the grounds of compassion, in circumstances where it was believed that there was little other choice, has mutated into an industry responsible for almost 200,000 abortions a year. Of the 97% funded by the NHS, 62% are subcontracted out to the private sector and a staggering £1 million a week is spent on repeat abortions. Even Lord Steel, one of the architects of the 1967 Abortion Act said that he “never envisaged that there would be so many abortions”. Speaking today, following the revelation that in only 46% of cases is there a record that a doctor has met the woman seeking an abortion to check that she is able to give fully formed consent, he described these figures as ‘regrettable’ and ‘against the Spirit of the 1967 Act’.

As the Daily Telegraph has repeatedly demonstrated with numerous exposes, the carefully-crafted rhetoric of abortion being purely a complex medical decision between a woman facing a seemingly impossible dilemma and her doctor, is a sham. In an investigation by the Care Quality Commission, clinics and hospitals were discovered operating illegal practices such as having batches of forms pre-signed by two doctors. In another investigation clinics were found to be offering to perform illegal later-stage gender selective abortions of baby girls.

This week the hypocrisy of the feminist movement has once again been laid bare, which keeps quiet over the abortion of baby girls, stating that women’s choice has to be paramount, the reason for terminating a pregnancy is irrelevant, what matters most is the woman’s decision itself, given that it is her who will be tasked with completing her pregnancy, giving birth to a child and presumably raising him or her. It begs the inevitable question as to whether or not they would still continue to insist that it is always a woman’s choice should a woman wish to abort her child on the equally unsavoury grounds that they would be of a certain race, or if an ante-natal test for sexuality were to be discovered. As the law currently stands, it is perfectly acceptable to terminate a baby up until the moment of their birth on the grounds of disability; in practice, if you discover that you are not having the longed-for gender, it is permissible to abort your baby for the lack or addition of a penis, up until the 24 week mark.

According to a story in the Independent, gender selective abortion in socially progressive Britain has reduced the population of women from ethnic minority groups by up to as many as 4,700.

The government’s response to such abuses of the law, is staggering, rather than to enforce and tighten up on the law as it currently stands, especially in relation to gender-selective abortions, their answer is to loosen it yet further and remove the requirement for a woman seeking an abortion to even seek a doctor. Furthermore a doctor will not need to give individual requests consideration before approving them.

So in effect a woman may, for whatever reason, decide that she wants to destroy her unborn child and she will therefore be given licence to do so, irrespective of the circumstances. Far from being an advancement in the cause of women’s rights, this is an abuser’s charter, giving green lights to statutory rapists in relationships with girls under the age of consent, as well as anyone else who seeks to force, coerce or pressurise a woman into an abortion.

The law was drafted precisely to protect vulnerable women, removing the requirement for this to be seen by two independent doctors, does nothing but harm the cause of women. I speak from a personal perspective of someone who had the experience of a rubber-stamped, no-questions- asked-abortion. No-one questioned me, however gently as to whether I was really aware of what I was doing, or informed me as to the potential future physical and emotional repercussions. Neither did they prepare me for the horrors of the procedure of itself and its immediate aftermath. I saw a GP just once, who referred the whole thing onto Marie Stopes.

It was assumed that I knew what I wanted and knew what I was doing. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I believe that had I been correctly counselled, with all options laid out in front of me, and possible future consequences, along with the ethical considerations, I would now be the proud mother of a seventeen year old young adult. In all of my subsequent pregnancies I have suffered from mild to severe crippling ante-natal depression. It doesn’t take Freud to work out why, nor can this been blamed on a religiously indoctrinated guilt complex – abortion was never discussed in religious terms at school but  couched in vague ethical terms. Prior to having an abortion I had never once seen graphic depictions, nor indeed been presented with an intelligent,  reasoned or scientific  pro-life case.

The statement “Nurses are often much better at dealing with the emotional and psychological needs of women”, from Tracey McNeill, director of Marie Stopes International, seems to pander to outdated paternalistic sexist claptrap in presuming that nurses are women. The midwife who delivered my second baby and latched her onto my breast was a male. He was more than capable of dealing with my emotional and psychological needs, as was my husband. This seems to buy into old-fashioned and unhelpful stereotypes about the gender and bedside manner of doctors. What’s needed is someone with excellent counselling skills together with bucketloads of empathy and compassion, regardless of their level of medical qualification or gender, though the thought of un-surgically experienced nurses carrying out surgical abortions, doesn’t seem to have moved us much further on from  pre-1967 practice. Mandy Rice-Davis’ infamous words come to mind: with a desperate shortage of doctors willing and able to become involved in the practice of abortion, clinics increasingly need nurse practitioners to fill the gap, hence “they would say that, wouldn’t they”?

It’s baloney. The female sonographer who roughly manhandled me and spoke in monosyllabic grunts when performing a pre-abortion ultrasound was hardly in tune with my emotional and psychological needs, neither was the ‘counsellor’, who again said so little to me, that I didn’t even realise that this was supposed to constitute an official counselling session, all she did was to nod and brusquely tell me that abortion was for the best and proceed to book in the abortion. Neither was the nurse who administered the abortion pills internally, only thinking to inform me afterwards that I would experience a ‘mini labour’ more in tune with my needs than any other medical practitioner, neither was the receptionist who shouted at me reducing me to tears and certainly not the ward nurse who expressed grim satisfied delight as I shook with fever and chills, poured with sweat and threw up, repeatedly attempting to physically force me back into bed and stop me from pacing around to alleviate my pain.

As for taking pills at home for the expulsion of the foetus, I’ve written about that before, however my experience of both medical abortion and a miscarriage is that this is a frightening and potentially dangerous procedure that requires medical supervision. A brief look at the miscarriage threads on a site such as Mumsnet, will throw up numerous stories of women panicking about the amount of pain and bloodloss experienced even when their loss is at an early stage, with a significant proportion requiring emergency treatment and in rare cases it fails. Giving women this treatment with no supervision, even if it is only for the initial stages, is reckless, prioritising the needs and capacity of the healthcare facility, before the physical health of the woman.

Ignoring the provisions  and protections of the Abortion Act caused me (and my unborn baby) irreparable harm as it has to countless women. Doubtless some women will find the requirement for two signatures an irritant, believing that they know their own mind and body, however this is about the protection of the many, including the unborn child. The question of whether it is ever ethical to terminate the life of an unborn child, to which the law says only in certain medically prescribed circumstances, is as relevant now as it was forty five years ago. Every single recent opinion poll in the UK demonstrates that women are overwhelmingly against any further liberalisation of the law.

If every case and every woman’s circumstances are different, then surely she is being let down by not having her case subject to the most stringent medical safeguards and close scrutiny by two doctors  in order to ensure that her best interests are really being served? Forty five years ago, the law decided that the unborn child merited protection, and should not be arbitrarily disposed of. What has changed to make that principle redundant?

Pope Francis’ words about the throwaway culture, even of people, embodied by abortion and euthanasia, seem more penetrating than ever.

Abby Johnson and the UK abortion industry

Abby johnson

Abby Johnson, the former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic is here in the UK to give a series of talks about her experiences and what motivated her to turn her back on the abortion industry.

She appeared on Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 this morning (the interview commences at 1 minute 10 into the broadcast) against Lisa Hallgarten, former director of Education for Choice and pro-choice advocate.

What struck me about the interview was Lisa’s blanket denials that abortion constitutes anything other than an industry, claiming that abortion providers are not-for-profit charities. Being a registered charity denotes tax status only. Private schools constitute charities, because like abortion providers they are supposed to be providing a public service, they are not accountable to shareholders or take huge dividends, but their very existence depends upon demand and repeat custom. Independent abortion providers run their organisations along the same lines as any other business, they have marketing departments, formulate business plans, try to maximise revenue streams and any profits are ploughed back into consolidating and expanding their market share. In addition their managing directors are paid well above industry standards in terms of salary packages, Tim Black CEO of Marie Stopes, currently earns £125,000. Any measures that proposed to dramatically reduce the abortion rate in the UK would drastically threaten their existence, which is why we see figures such as Ann Furedi proclaiming ‘there is no right number of abortions’.

BPAS latest statement of accounts set out their financial objectives, which include generating a surplus of £2.1 million, increasing the number of NHS contracts won, notably by expanding into London, the South West and South East, as well as embedding a public education and engagement programme to build support for the BPAS mission, including lobbying for policy changes in terms of early abortion, increasing their local,  national and international profile through promotion of services and to establish a network of European referrers. This is the fifth year in a row that BPAS has reported an increase in trading surplus, and the plan for 2012/2013 is to build on the financial successes of future years.

But clearly not a business. As a point of note, Ann Furedi’s salary is not listed, however 1 employee is listed as being paid between £120,000 and £130,000 per annum. Given that her counterpart at Marie Stopes earns £125,000 it’s safe to assume that Ann’s salary would be of an equivalent level. In terms of charitable activities, BPAS note that they wrote off loans to clients, totalling £2,500 and they waived abortion fees to the sum of £24, 491. That equates to 41 early medical abortions, or 24  surgical abortions between 9 and 18 weeks, or 18 late stage abortions. Compared with the £26 million of annual income generated, and the aim to increase their operating surplus to £2.1 million, £27,000 spent on helping a handful of cash-strapped clients, doesn’t strike one as the epitome of munificence for a charity claiming to be of significant public benefit.

The other point that Lisa wanted to make to counter Abby was the excellence of the service and counselling provided by abortion clinics. Correctly identifying that most women who present at an abortion clinic have already made their mind up to have an abortion, Lisa takes this as proof that their choices must therefore be informed and correct and they will have sought advice elsewhere, especially from families.

Families don’t tend to be very good at the gold standard of ‘impartial  non directive counselling’ in my experience, nor are close friends. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, we are all entitled to impart our views and values if someone asks us informally for advice if they are facing a tough situation, but why is it better for a woman to be convinced that an abortion is the right course of action for her against an instinct to keep the baby, as opposed to a woman whose instinct is that she cannot have a baby to be persuaded otherwise?

Marie Stopes did not provide me with “gold standard, second to none care” in terms of counselling or the procedure itself. No-one explored other options with me and nor was there any acknowledgement or sense that I was facing a choice. Far from it, the ‘counsellor’ listened to the reasons why I felt that I should have an abortion and made no attempt to explore my fears or concerns, to test their validity, neither did she prepare me for the fact that I might face trauma, either directly afterwards, or that this may affect my mental health in future pregnancies.

I was told that an abortion was obviously the only course of action and that I was in no position to deal with a baby. Adoption was never even suggested or mentioned. The attitude was one of confirming my negativity and fears.

The physical care was pretty dreadful too. I wasn’t informed until after the misoprostol tablets were inserted that I could expect to experience a ‘mini labour’. The overriding image imprinted on my brain is one of ‘horseshoes’. I remember doubling over in pain in a cramped toilet cubicle, feeling as though I had been repeatedly kicked in the stomach by a horse. A nurse making a routine check of the toilets spotted me vomiting profusely into the sink. “That’s great” she said “it shows it’s really working well”. Resting my burning forehead against the cool tiles above the basin, in-between bouts of retching and convulsing into a ball on the floor due to excruciating stomach pains, I vowed never ever to go through childbirth. It’s no wonder that women who have experienced an early abortion have an innate fear of childbirth, it is forever associated with terrible pain, isolation, loneliness, desolation and despair. Pain, blood and mess with nothing to show at the end of it. I had an innate urge to walk up and down the ornate balustraded staircase (the procedure itself took place at Marie Stopes’ Barking facility) to alleviate the pain, but the staff were having none of it, trying to hustle me back into a bed. Lying still was the worst possible course of action, I was like a caged, rabid animal, pacing the premises, desperate to do something to soothe the excruciating pain wracking my body and for the whole experience to be over.

The sympathy, care and understanding from the staff was non-existent. They wanted me out of the way, safely in a ward or bed, not wandering around the joint with my contorted expressions of pain and clutching my stomach.

It’s one of the reasons why my recent miscarriage was quite so traumatic, as I had to go through an almost identical procedure, only this time my baby had already died of natural causes. The difference in care and treatment between the staff on a NHS gynae ward and an abortion clinic to whom the NHS has contracted out abortion provision, could not have been more marked. Every single member of staff I spoke to, introduced themselves with the opening phrase “I’m so sorry to have to be seeing you in these circumstances”, acknowledging that I was losing a baby, not getting rid of some unwanted unspecified lump of tissue, or treating me like a stupid adolescent who had been caught out for not taking better care of herself.  Though one hears of horror stories, the staff on level 11 of the Royal Sussex County hospital offered sympathetic and compassionate care right from the moment that we learnt that the baby’s heartbeat had stopped. Whether or not a baby is wanted makes all the difference in terms of whether or not it is treated as a human being or a woman as a grieving mother. The abortion clinics cannot treat women as mothers losing a baby for obvious reasons. To do so would render their  biological sophistry untenable.

In comparison to Marie Stopes who offered me nothing in terms of pain relief, the NHS offered to throw everything in their gamut, from liquid morphine to entenox if necessary. Using the same medication as on offer from the abortion clinics, I was kept in overnight and ending up losing almost two litres of blood and needing emergency treatment in the middle of the night to remove trapped placental tissue causing an enormous hemorrhage.

That the abortion providers wish to push this treatment for women to take at home, is utterly beyond me. Had I been home there could have been a medical catastrophe with the added trauma of young children as witnesses. Admittedly my miscarriage was later than the abortion, however the physical pain in both instances was identical. If abortion clinics purport to care so much about the welfare of women, why do they not provide adequate pain relief beyond paracetamol or ibuprofen?

Of course that would cost, not only in terms of the drugs themselves but also the supervision required of women who were administered opiates or entenox as well as someone competent and able to prescribe them, such as a qualified doctor. It wouldn’t help achieve the £2 million target of operating surplus. If pro-lifers were to campaign for adequate pain relief for women experiencing medical abortion, it would be written off as a wish to punish women, but god forbid we were to level a similar charge at the benevolent clinics.

Lisa Hallgarten was at pains to differentiate the UK from the US in terms of abortion provision. Personally I don’t see a lot of difference, simply that the UK’s abortion industry is more slick and has been more successful in terms of leveraging the typical British sentiment to contain messiness  behind closed doors, eschew all expressions of disgust and keep the aspidistra flying.

Frederica Mathewes-Green famously stated “no woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg”.

Abortion clinics act as the wire-cutters, coming along to cut and disentangle the wires in exchange for a fee and often inflicting damage as severe on the trapped woman, as bad as had she gnawed her own leg off in the first place. A humane society would campaign for no traps. But what the pro-life movement and organisations aim to do is show the woman that the trap is not is not as threatening or dangerous as she feared and enable to make her way out, free of damage and intact.

Increasing the number of wire-cutters in the form of abortion clinics does nothing to prevent the laying of traps. If as a rabbit you wanted to cross a pasture full of enticing clover, littered with traps, would you really trust the man you’d have to pay for wire cutters to help you navigate a path to avoid them?

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.

Under Pressure

I incurred quite a bit of derision from the abortion lobby following my post last week, calling into question both the impartiality of Rachel Garrick and the events that she described as taking place outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Whitfield Street.

It turns out I was not quite so far off the mark after all. A brief look at Rachel’s timeline shows that far from being someone who “isn’t particularly drawn to the reproductive rights debate”, she had in fact been tweeting about the issue of abortion, long before the remarks from Maria Miller and Jeremy a few weeks ago. As vice-chair of Rochester and Strood Labour party, Rachel was openly volunteering to “woman” the Abortion Rights stand at the Labour party conference on October 1st and ensuring that a union leaflet in support of abortion was carried by the TUC and all affiliate unions. That’s all well and good, but obviously the claim that she wasn’t interested in the pro-life debate is rather disingenuous.

With regards to what actually happened, Good Counsel Network confirmed that the young woman and her boyfriend were feeling uncomfortable about the decision to abort, but felt that circumstances dictated that they had little other choice. They were just on the verge of going to the Good Counsel Centre for some real and practical support when Wonder Woman flew to the rescue and efficiently browbeat them into the clinic. Upon leaving the clinic the young woman CHOSE to speak to the volunteer outside; she was still very upset and felt under increasing pressure as the clinic told her that she had very little time to make a decision.

Odd that a woman should emerge from a non-directive counselling session feeling more under pressure than ever. Surely, if Wonder Woman was correct in her assessment that the alleged photographs being shown were of a much later gestation than the lady’s baby, then the lady wasn’t anywhere near the 24 week limit. Isn’t that why abortion supporters are advocating a limit far in advance of 12 weeks, in order to give women adequate time to decide? Of course without knowing how pregnant this lady was, one can’t make a judgement call, but it seems fair to assume she was early on, and yet still felt under pressure to make a quick decision. Also note, that the lady says that the specific support that she needs, is NOT on offer from Marie Stopes.

It certainly calls into question the non-directive nature of the counselling offered by the abortion clinics. A pregnant woman emerges distressed and feeling that she has very little time to make her choice, when, even if she was 12 weeks, she still technically has plenty of time under the law. The other thing worth emphasising here, is that Marie Stopes charges £5 for the pregnancy test and £80 for the consultation. If you can only get a weekend appointment that’ll set you back an extra £40. Well they are not a charity, you know. Oh. Wait…

Still, none of this gives me any pleasure. It’s not an “I told you so”. Ultimately there’s a vulnerable pregnant young woman out there and hundreds like her, going into abortion clinics feeling like they have little other choice and being put under pressure to make hasty decisions. And those organisations who are trying to help them, who are reaching out, offering nothing but unconditional non-judgemental support and help are under not only financial pressure (Good Counsel are currently supporting over 30 mothers) but are subjected to hate campaigns and attempted vexatious litigation and complaints in an attempt to get them off the streets and cut women off from sources of help. In the meantime the abortion industry is funded by the government to the tune of millions of pounds every year, whereas Good Counsel and others rely solely on the generosity of individuals and unlike the clinics offer all their services gratis.

It really is time that a public consultation was held surrounding the abortion industry. Let those who say that they support choice, allow women with unplanned pregnancies the choice of accessing pro-life counselling support. Women aren’t stupid, they know that a clinic will be geared towards abortion, BPAS have thrown away all attempts at impartiality by advertising abortion, women know that a pro-life organisation will give them options that will steer them towards keeping the baby, why should they be denied access to this?

And let’s hope that future feministas to the rescue think twice before flying in to save the day and making things a whole lot worse for vulnerable woman in need of information surrounding all available options.

Coming from America

Predictably enough, the pro-choice lobby has moved up a gear in response to 40daysforlife, despite the fact that no actual changes in the law are being mooted or lobbied for, with a glut of the usual rhetoric appearing on a daily basis on the internet, therefore this blog will take on even more of a pro-life bent until the end of the campaign, as much misinformation abounds.

A rather slick new website that appears to be supported by and it would seem, an initiative of the “charity” Education for Choice has sprung up. * (see note). It’s worth noting that Education for Choice masquerades as that Holy Grail of “evidenced based” information, whereas it is obvious from their website, that they are in fact all about promoting abortion. Given that they’ve managed to totally misrepresent the Roman Catholic position on abortion, falsely claiming that the Church used to accept abortion until quickening – it doesn’t inspire much confidence as to the impartial nature of the rest of their information. In any event, Education for Choice, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Brook Advisory, the “charity”, concerned with providing with sexual health advice and services. It can’t be any surprise that they are opposing anything that might present a challenge to the status quo on abortion, but it makes their false claims of 40DaysforLife being a professional political organisation, awash with cash, rather hypocritical.

The professional writer, journalist and pro-choice advocate, Sarah Ditum launches the site, with this post, riddled with inaccuracies. Ditum starts off by describing 40 Days for Life’s American roots, the standard trope de jour when talking about this issue. The point being that abortion is much more of a political hot potato in the US, than it is in the UK. This has nothing to do with clinic vigils and everything to do with the political and religious demographics of the US. Abortion should be an apolitical issue, one doesn’t need to have a tribal allegiance to either left or right wing parties to believe that the taking of an unborn human life is wrong. The pro-choicers who bemoan this, were the very ones who politicised the issue in 1967 and 1973 when campaigning for its legalisation. Those who point to America as being some sort of big bad bogeyman in terms of the abortion issue would presumably reject any of the tactics used by their pro-choice lobby, such as the setting up of a research institute funded by their biggest abortion provider?

The association with the US is repeated time and time again, to draw false analogies between the American bible-belt and the UK population. It’s a not-so subtle form of racism and superiority. Anyone who supports clinic vigils must be some kind of bible-thumping irrational redneck, is the implication. Not to mention the deliberate attempt to install fear, because in the last 40 years, eight abortion clinic workers have been killed in American since Roe v Wade, equating to two tenths of a person per year. That’s not to downplay the abortion related violence that has taken place, but the overwhelming majority of pro-life absolutely abhor all violence and killing, which is precisely the sentiment that motivates the vigils. Eight murders is 8 too many, but in a vastly populated country which has the right to bear arms enshrined in its constitution, it is likely that there will be unbalanced individuals who will take matters into their own hands, regardless of the cause. It does not automatically follow that this is likely to happen in the UK.

As anyone who attended the 40 days for Life kick-off rally on Tuesday night will attest, actually the fanatical aggression came from those on the pro-choice side, who spent a full hour ranting, chanting insults, blasphemy and screaming vile obscenities when faced with a group of people praying the rosary. The more they were ignored, the most venomous and offensive they became, the priest being a particular target of their hatred. A pro-life pagan gives her account of what happened here. As this report states, fanatical extremist violence seems to feature far more heavily from the pro-choice brigade; in America a loaded gun was pointed at the 40 days for life volunteers by an abortionist, at another location an abortion supporter tossed a homemade firebomb at them and recently we saw the attempted murder and mass shooting, averted by the bravery of a security guard at the Family Research centre in Washington DC. If American style tactics are taking place, then it would seem that it is actually the pro-lifers who are bravely putting themselves on the line in defence of the unborn.

A UK “pro-lifer” has added fuel to the fire by giving Ditum the “benefit” of their wisdom. Referring to a one-off incident where it is alleged that a volunteer filmed women entering the clinic, (he was supposedly filming for a documentary) something that 40 Days for Life does not condone and behaviour which will result in the volunteer being immediately asked to leave the vigil, said pro-lifer opined “what starts with a camera could end with a gun”. I cannot begin to dissect the motivation of someone who seeks to paint their alleged brethren in Christ who stand in silent prayerful solidarity with the unborn as crazed loonies with the potential to kill people, it’s not the kind of actions one might associate with Elizabeth Anscombe, Edith Stein or even Phyllis Bowman, but it goes without saying, that regrettable though that alleged incident was, it is not indicative of a desire to kill or even intimidate anyone and neither is it representative of the volunteers. Just as one cannot castigate the political LGBT lobby groups for the actions of an isolated gunman, anyone with a modicum of common sense can tell the difference between an over-enthusiastic cameraman and a gunman. Or are we saying that quiet prayer vigils should not occur in public places because no-one may be trusted to behave appropriately? Whilst we are on the subject of cameras however, what have BPAS got to say about the camera that they have constantly trained on the volunteers from the confines of their upstairs window? Could that end up as a gun also?

Ditum continues with her theme of intimidation and harassment despite the fact that no-one from 40 days for Life in the UK has been arrested, charged or even asked to move on by the police. Surely if women were being followed, encircled and generally harassed, there would be some evidence of this made public as well as criminal charges? A quick google maps search will throw up the location of the vigils – over the road on a public square, a good 50 yards from the clinic door. Women entering the clinic do not need to even walk ok the same side of the road as the vigil or past it. I don’t doubt for one moment that BPAS would not hesitate to call the police, press charges and display any incriminating video footage should this exist.

Other blaring inaccuracies include the statement that 40 Days for Life began in the UK in the Spring of this year – nope that’s incorrect, they commenced in the Autumn of 2010. She alludes to an email sent to her by Robert Colquhoun in which she claims that 40 days for Life house post-abortive women in the same building as women whom they are helping to keep their pregnancies – proof she says, that 40 days for Life have scant regard for women’s welfare. I’ve seen the email concerned and the most charitable interpretation is that there has been some misunderstanding on Sarah’s part. 40 Days for Life do not house post-abortive women in the same building as pregnant women – Robert was in this email attempting to set up an interview with Sarah and another journalist with 2 pregnant women who have been helped, along with the perspective of another, post-abortive woman, on the counselling and help from 40 days for life. Quite where she got the impression that they were all living together is not clear, but then again, despite the funds available to Education for Choice, she probably wasn’t paid for the piece and thus did not do the usual fact-checking.

It throws into doubt her central claim that 40 days for life don’t care for women’s wellbeing, given it’s based on this misinformation, the evidence of harassment or encirclement is absent and the US conclusions rather spurious at best. Presumably she wouldn’t have too much of a problem with the HSS bill or Obama-care – that’s one American import that’s definitely alright. Neither is there evidence that abortion clinics have shut down due to bullying. The industry is made of sterner stuff than that. Where clinics have shut down it has been due to withdrawn funding and/or losing licences to practice having been discovered being in breach of state laws governing safe practice, not due to the a group of people praying outside. Abortion clinic workers have quit the industry having had their eyes opened as to their unseemly grisly trade, not because 40 days for life have bullied or threatened them. Again evidence for this claim is missing. Of course, as Sarah rightly points out we will celebrate these conversions of hearts and minds and the closure of abortion facilities. That’s fairly obvious! And there’s the entire nub of their opposition. The US pro-life lobby has gained great momentum and had some incredible successes. No wonder 40 Days for Life is described as a noxious import – it actually works.

For an organisation that likes to tout it’s information as evidence-based, it seems clear that Education for Choice/40 Days of Choice etc opinion is firmly subjective, based on misinformation and bias. Still, all we can do is keep praying, whilst they keep desperately spinning. In the meantime, God Bless the USA – Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, where clinic vigils are lawful, successful and require courage.

Some scary American volunteers

*Brook Advisory is almost entirely funded by the UK government, proving that the word charity denotes tax status only. Still it’s good to know where tax revenue is being spent. Personally I can’t see why Brook Advisory can’t be incorporated back into the NHS and am rather concerned that it seems to be seeking to lobby to change government policy, in terms of its new campaign for more funding for sexual health in the light of government cuts. So let me get this straight, the government is funding an organisation that seeks to lobby itself for more cash. Rightyho…

Blind prejudice

Sunny Hundal is persisting with his calumnious claim that LIFE are “religious nutjobs”. I would suggest that someone who continues to doggedly defend Johann Hari’s journalistic integrity, despite the increasing flow of plagiarised material lifted quotes, needs his critical faculties examining. Still Sunny and Johann are comrades in arms, never ones to let truth get in the way of a good story.

Not only Sunny, but also Diane Abbott seems to be intent on peddling the lie, that “basic abortion rights” are under threat. For as long as they continue to push this, it must be pointed out that this is absolutely not the case.

Whether or not every woman has a “basic abortion right” is nonetheless a contentious issue. The law makes provision for legal abortions to be carried out provided that certain criteria are met. This is not the same thing as a “basic right”. The 1967 Abortion Act was designed to enable abortions to be performed in sterile conditions by qualified staff in an attempt to prevent maternal deaths, which is a far cry from the precept that every pregnant woman has the automatic right to abort her unborn child. The legistlation was drafted in a very precise way, detailing the specific circumstances under which abortion may be legally performed and why the signature of two doctors are required, recognising that abortion is a serious business and not a basic right.

Diane Abbott tweeted “Cameron is showing arrogant disregard for women across the country by pushing changes to abortion without debate or vote”. She should have more integrity (although she has form in the hypocrisy stakes) than to imply that major changes in the accessibility of abortion are in the offing. This is clearly not the case. The proposed independent counselling that will be required prior to abortion, will not prevent women from procuring an abortion. To imply anything else is disingenuous.

It is no surprise that abortion “charities” are bitterly opposed to these changes, the fewer abortions that they get to perform, the less money they receive. Not a week goes by without the Guardian running at least one piece of propaganda, employing not-so-subtle devices such as putting the word independent in inverted commas, in order to highlight their doubt that anyone other than an abortion provider may be able to give a balanced and non-directive perspective. LIFE have BACP counsellors, Marie Stopes and BPAS do not, we only have their word that they are “impartial and non-judgemental”.

Ann Furedi of BPAS highlights the statistic that 80% of abortions are carried out within the first ten weeks of pregnancy. Get the client in, prescribe the abortion pill as swiftly as possible and bill either them or the NHS for £600. Of course they don’t want any delay in this procedure, it could massively impact their revenue stream. The motivations for expediting the process could not be any more explicit.

As Phyllis Bowman says,  “when BPAS was launched  they made it abundantly clear that their aim was to promote the availability of abortion to girls. It was unlawful (as it is still) for clinics to advertise to the public – so BPAS was set up “as a charity counselling service” to fill the gap. If abortion clinics had been able to advertise to the public, there would have been no need for BPAS – and very soon BPAS set up their own clinics so they could do the abortions for women who came.”

No wonder the “charities” are firing on all cylinders in terms of aggressive lobbying and PR campaigns, they have a lot to lose.

As for Diane Abbot, I am surprised that a woman of her intelligence  and cultural background displays such little awareness of the eugenic element to abortion. In 2010 48% of women having an abortion who had a history of 1 or more abortion were either Black or Black British. I’d be interested to know what she thinks of the holocaust of black unborn children?

If wanting to stick up for the rights of unborn ethnic minorities makes one a nutjob, it’s a label I’ll wear with pride. It is not David Cameron who is showing the arrogant disregard for women of his own cultural background.

Home Alone

*Warning: This post is a lengthy discussion of the issues concerning Early Medical Abortion. It contains information that some may find distressing.*

Today is the final day of the High Court hearing where the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) are challenging the Department of Health, in order that women may be allowed to take the Abortion Pill, RU486 at home. Under the current system, the woman is prescribed and given two pills at the clinic, which block the pregnancy hormones and cause the developing embryo to detach from the womb lining where it cannot survive. The second set of pills is given in the clinic 48 hours later, which will cause her to miscarry. What the BPAS wish to do is challenge the 1967 Abortion Act which states that ‘any treatment for the termination of pregnancy’ must take place in a hospital or clinic and allow women to take the second set of pills at home, their main argument being that a woman will be able to better manage ‘a natural miscarriage’ in the comfort of her own home, where she will be better physically and emotionally prepared to cope.  Ann Furedi, the Chief Executive of BPAS claims that many women describe the cramping and bleeding as a “blessed relief”. The Abortion Pill, or EMA (Early Medical Abortion) “isn’t a period, but is probably the closest thing to it there is”.

A pill-popping exercise and Post-Abortion Syndrome

Stop right there. First of all, one of the many problems with the RU486, is that it turns abortion into nothing more than a pill-popping exercise. Many will not see a problem with that, but regardless of whether or not you believe the unborn child to actually be a child and have any rights, (for a photo of a 9 week fetus click here) abortion is the destruction of unborn life. Many many women, and I know, I have spoken with enough of them, suffer lasting emotional trauma after an abortion, when the reality of their choice has kicked in. The vast majority of women who undergo an abortion do experience a measure of guilt and pain, which society does not want to recognise, because such a recognition means an identification of what abortion is. Therefore a woman struggling with the after-effects of an abortion is unable to seek support of her close friends or family, who will condemn her for two reasons, either that she had the abortion itself, or more commonly, that she is experiencing grief and pain. Society embraces and endorses abortion as being a valid lifestyle choice and so a woman who suffers unforeseen emotional consequences as a result of that choice is seen as being self-indulgent and/or undermining the validity of that choice. Phrases like “well it was for the best, it was what you wanted to do”, “it wasn’t really a baby anyway” being all too common. A woman suffering from Post Abortion Syndrome or abortion related PTSD needs to be able to vocalise her experiences to a non-judgemental listener, one who will seek to ascribe neither blame, nor validation to her decision, but simply be there to listen and also to help her find ways of marking her loss. Many women who have been through an abortion  and need help beat themselves up in almost unimaginable ways, they don’t need any more guilt than they already have. Now when you make the woman physically responsible for the ending of her pregnancy, this only compounds the potential after-effects.

(Incidentally it is worth noting that neither BPAS or Marie Stopes offer any free emotional post-procedure counselling, their websites talking about the importance of having a good friend, counselling only being available on an appointment basis, in contrast to all the major pro-life charities, who are there at the other end of the phone 24/7, free of charge. )

So that’s the issue with pill-popping, it puts the burden and responsibility back onto the woman herself and reduces a devastating procedure into the routine everyday action taking a pill to alleviate an ache or pain. The comparisons that Ann Furedi makes with a patient who suffers from, for example, high blood pressure, only seeks to trivialise the issue further and is a straw-man argument. A patient with high blood pressure needs pills or medication to alleviate or control the symptoms of his condition and hopefully cure it. Pregnancy is not an illness or disease, an unborn child is not a symptom that needs to be eliminated.

A quick, safe decision?

Let’s look at the next issue surrounding the Early Medical Abortion, namely the time limit. The RU486 may only be taken before the woman has reached 9 weeks of pregnancy, therefore woman wishing to take this option need to do so quickly, the quicker the better. I can testify, having had 2 unplanned pregnancies, that in those first early weeks, one is in an absolute state of shock. Your hormones are all over the place, you are extremely tired, emotional, terrified of the future and often unable to think clearly. Even if, as with my second child, the baby is planned, you are still rather overwhelmed and incredulous that you are pregnant. It doesn’t seem real, apart from the two lines on the stick; there is no obvious physical manifestation that you are actually carrying a child. For me the weeks between 4 and 8 are the hardest, you know that you are pregnant, but you don’t actually have anything to show for it and it’s easy to go into a state of denial, particularly as you are bound to silence, for obvious reasons.

Though I need to be wary of disclosing too much private information, I feel it is appropriate to share some information regarding my pregnancy with my first daughter. As most know, my husband is not the biological father of our eldest child. Her biological father, with whom she now enjoys a close, loving and fulfilling relationship had always been explicit that he never ever wanted to have children. When I became unexpectedly pregnant, it is not melodramatic to state that for him, it was a total and utter disaster. It soon became very clear that at some point a choice would need to be made between the child and my relationship and that the relationship would not survive a child. Both sets of parents were extremely concerned, I took many phonecalls from his father urging an abortion and my mother also put pressure on me, stating that perhaps now was not the right time. His parents were terrified of the effect of an unwanted child on their son, my parents were terrified that our relationship would split up. At some point, someone well-meaning booked me in for an appointment at Marie Stopes. I rang them to discuss the situation when I was 7 weeks pregnant, about a week after I had taken the test. They informed me that I had an appointment to be prescribed the RU486 the next day. I stated that I was unsure as to my decision, (at that point I was pro-life though not practicing my faith) briefly outlined my circumstances, i.e. unplanned pregnancy, desperately unhappy partner, worried parents and had only begun a new job 5 months previously. Their response was that it sounded like an abortion would be the best option for me, the EMA was definitely the safest and most recommended method as it wouldn’t involve surgery, however they pressed home that I was really short of time, I desperately needed to act quickly. I asked for counselling, in order that I could discuss my options more fully and their response was to give me a counseling slot, half an hour before the time I would be given the clinical slot, but they did not want to cancel the clinical slot.

I decided there and then to cancel the entire thing, knowing how rubbish I am at saying no to people, and already under enough pressure, I felt that the sheer existence of this clinical appointment, looming immediately after the counseling might tip the balance or that I might be persuaded to make a quick decision. I was also concerned that the person on the phone, did not seem willing or able to discuss the alternatives. Marie Stopes were also guilty of using the oldest salesman’s trick in the book, namely of not only emphasising my limited time, but also of stating that if I didn’t take the given appointment that they couldn’t guarantee that there would be any available in the allocated time. It was a now or never scenario. I felt enormous pressure to abort with Marie Stopes keen to endorse and facilitate the decisions of others, not once did anyone ask “how do you feel about this, have you considered keeping your baby?”

I went home in floods of tears and announced somewhat melodramatically that I was keeping the baby and although I knew he would think I was mental, that I couldn’t abort because that would mean that I would burn in hell forever! I need to add that is not my stance now, but my daughter’s birth was an enormous turning point in my journey of faith.

What got me through those incredibly awful early weeks, was the determination that I couldn’t hurt my baby and the support of a very good friend, who helped me to see that what I saw as obstacles were not really obstacles at all, and that the very worst thing I could do would be to rush into a decision. 9 weeks may seem like plenty of time, but in reality, many women do not find out until they are at least 6-7 weeks pregnant, and 2 weeks is not sufficient to get one’s head around the enormity of the decision and make any kind of rational judgement, particularly when you are being pressured by an abortion provider. It worried me that counseling was not offered for a decision of this gravity. Let’s contrast the attitude of Marie Stopes/BPAS with that of a responsible Family Planning Clinic, which my friend visited aged 17. She had suspected that she was unexpectedly pregnant, went to the FPC who confirmed this, whereupon her first reaction was “I want to get rid of it”. Admittedly this was some time ago, attitudes are now different, but she was told “you’ve just found out that you’re pregnant five minutes ago. You cannot possibly make that decision. You need to go home, have a week to think about this, spend some time and come back next week, if you still feel the same then we will discuss options”. Her daughter is now 13 years old, she also has an 11 year old and despite having been kicked out of home as a result of her pregnancy, is a qualified staff nurse.

The reality of the procedure

Pressuring women is not the responsible option. Having subsequently been motivated to do some post abortion counselling work, almost every woman I have spoken to who was prescribed the RU486, has an absolute horror story to relate. To describe the cramping and nausea as being similar to period pain is a cruel deception. Women are not properly informed as to their potential ordeal until it is too late. Clinical sanitised language is employed and it is only once women are given the second set of pills, or in some cases, pessary, are they told “what you are are about to experience is a mini labour”. Not every woman suffers from period pain, so for many this is a meaningless comparison, many women think they will just experience a mild tummy ache. I have heard stories of women in agony for hours, one that I think will stick with me forever, was of one woman who had an intuitive compulsion to walk up and down the stairs of the clinic to alleviate her terrible pain, with some nurse Ratchett type urging her back into bed and to stay still. She had a dreadful fever, was throwing up and all the nurse could say was “oh good that proves its working well”. The RU486 is a taste of labour for many women, but instead of the relief described by Ann Furedi, it is accompanied by emptiness and grief, the labour bringing home to them exactly what they have lost. Those of us who have children and have experienced the pain of labour, can also testify to the joy and wonderment when our children are finally delivered, your body having been working up to this for several hours.

Not so for women affected by the RU486, they have absolutely nothing to show for their pains and are often so scarred that they are deterred for life from ever experiencing the empowering nature of childbirth. They associate it with an ugly outcome. Though I attempt to refrain from being graphic in these matters, the outcome is horrific. Women are given a carboard kidney dish in which to “pass the sack”, which then needs to be put into a paper bag allegedly resembling a lunchsack, whereupon it is checked to ensure that it is intact. Then they are sent home with paracetamol to deal with the fall-out and get on with life.

The argument goes that it is much kinder to let women manage their abortions in the comfort of their own home. From the stories I have heard, home is the very last place that women need to be, they need medical support and assistance, even if it is of a very brusque nature. Sometimes women need serious pain relief and intervention and a clinic or hospital is undoubtedly the best place. Complications such as incomplete or failed abortions which require surgery or problems associated with bleeding are not rare. What concerns me about this, is that it will be the vulnerable who will be most at risk. Teenage girls taking this pill without the knowledge or support of their parents, quietly taking the pill all alone in the privacy of their bedrooms, experiencing excruciating pain and potentially serious complications and too scared to ask for help or support. Apparently clinics will have a manned helpline for those concerned with symptoms, but the helpline will be of no practical support if someone needs urgent medical attention. All sorts of things could happen. The so-called ease and convenience of this pill could mean that many are pressured into taking it by boyfriends or abusive partners, relatives or even pimps without the proper care and support. Worse still, it is not beyond the bounds of imagination that women may be unknowingly duped or forced into taking it, particularly given the amount of women estimated to be working illegally in the sex industry. It seems so simple, go to the clinic take a few pills, go home, then take a few more 48 hours later and problem solved. Just a little bit of tummy ache to contend with. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Many women do experience natural miscarriages at home, with a significant proportion needing follow-up medical attention. Furthermore most women who do experience a natural miscarriage have the support of friends, families and partners who understand that this is an emotionally and physically gruelling time for them, with time off work often granted for compassionate reasons. I cannot see women taking the RU846 at home being accorded anything like the same amount of support, the myth is take the pill, solve the problem and get on with life. Besides, a miscarriage is a dreadfully traumatic experience for any woman, and yes probably they are more comfortable tucked up in bed, or curled up on the sofa. Not so for the woman going through a mini labour on the quiet, who has absolutely no idea of what to expect, whether or not her pain or blood loss is normal and no-one to talk to about it, unless she can sneakily use her mobile whilst locking herself in the bathroom or bedroom, unable to physically manifest any sign that she might be in pain in case someone suspects. The bedroom or bathroom will forever be associated with horrific memories and associations, a constant reminder of her ordeal.

There is also the issue of disposal of the fetus. Existing Department of Health guidelines state that dignity and respect should be afforded to fetal tissue and to leave women to deal with this aspect not only contravenes existing guidelines but is downright cruel.

Holistic healthcare – body and soul, or an expedited solution?

This is being sold under the premise of healthcare and concern for the woman, whereas if healthcare was the main issue, proper counseling would be mandatory before any abortion takes place, so that the woman is able to fully consent to the procedure and knows exactly what to expect. Since when did mental health cease to become a healthcare issue? The whole point of the 1967 Abortion Act was to ensure that abortion was as safe as possible for women. A successful challenge would totally undermine the spirit of the act, would compromise women’s safety and put abortion safely back behind closed doors.

And if you still think that this is done in the name of altruism, consider this. BPAS charges £530 for a medical abortion, although the NHS funds 93% of abortions carried out by them. Marie Stopes charges the same, although they will let you have your consultation over the telephone  rather than face-to-face and will charge an extra £35 if you need them at the weekend. Do you think that if all of a sudden women are allowed to take their pills at home, with no medical supervision, that the prices will fall? If the challenge is successful, the clinic’s overheads are reduced, meaning plenty more money in the pot to guess what sell and promote even more speedy abortions to even more women. It’s a nice little earner for them, make no mistake. And for those who are sceptical, check out Planned Parenthood in the US. A similar “altruistic” organisation, providing choice for women, abortions given, no questions asked, who have this week been uncovered not only covering up cases of child abuse and statutory rape, but also giving advice to pimps and sex traffickers who bring in their clients for a no questions asked service.

Regardless of one’s views on abortion, today’s challenge is motivated far more by profit than altruism. If you truly care about women facing crisis pregnancies, you’ll enable them to make a properly informed, wholly consensual choice, instead of rushing them into a course of action which will have serious long-term emotional and physical repercussions. To any woman who has ever suffered a miscarriage, to equate it to being the closest thing to a period, shows how out of touch BPAS and Ms Furedi really are.