HomeoldIs one in five UK abortion clinics breaking the law?

Is one in five UK abortion clinics breaking the law?

Published on

Servile deference to abortion rights has led doctors to believe that they are above the law.

“I will do all government paperwork conscientiously” is not a clause in the Hippocratic Oath. Yet it is an important aspect of an ethical doctor’s daily work. Government bureaucracy is an annoying burden, but doctors have no special privileges under the law.

Politicians lose their jobs for fudging their expenses. Accountants can be jailed for fudging audits. Scientists lose their funding if they falsify data. Shouldn’t doctors feel obliged to follow the letter of the law – especially when lives are at stake?

Last week, the London Telegraph revealed that doctors at many British abortion clinics are routinely falsifying their records. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley was outraged and vowed to crack down on clinics operating outside the law.

“I was appalled. Because when it happens, it is pretty much people who are engaged in a culture of both ignoring the law and trying to give themselves the right to say, despite what Parliament has said, we believe in abortion on demand.”

Following revelations in February, also in the Telegraph, that some doctors were routinely authorising illegal sex-selective abortions, the government’s watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, raided every clinic offering abortions. Of some 250 clinics, both state and private, 50 were found to have falsified records. Although abortion is a common procedure in Britain, it still requires the approval of two doctors. The main offence uncovered in the raid was that doctors were signing consent forms in bulk.

Mr Lansley was also concerned that patients were not receiving adequate counselling. He pointed out that this was not just a matter of petty paperwork:

“There is a risk that women are not getting the appropriate level of pre-abortion support and counselling, because if your attitude is ‘you’ve come for an abortion and you should have one’, well, actually many women are not getting the level of support that they should…

“I completely understand that the law doesn’t require the doctor to have met the woman in question, but to sign certificates in advance when you don’t even know which woman it is and there hasn’t been an assessment is completely against the spirit and the letter of the law.”

This seems like common sense, but the CEO of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the largest private abortion provider in the UK, Ann Furedi, was furious at the raids. She said it was ‘absolutely wrong’ for the CQC to abandon all the important work on its agenda to go after abortion clinics.

In fact, the shoddy paperwork appears to have been an open secret. In September 2007, a former medical director of the BPAS told a parliamentary committee that the paperwork was so bad, even illegal, that the two-doctor requirement should be scrapped. Dr Vincent Argent wrote:

“The author has observed the following practices – some of which may be illegal and require clarification: Signing batches of forms before patients have even been seen for consultation; signing forms without knowing the individual patient and without reading the notes; signing forms without seeing or examining the patients; signing forms after the abortion has been performed; faxing forms to other locations for signature; using signature stamps without consulting the doctor.

“The HSA1 form is often seen as a purely administrative process, with no attempt by doctors to form a good faith opinion that the patient meets the grounds of section 1”.

It is clear that these irregularities have been going on for years, ignored by practitioners and regulators alike. The Health Secretary’s outrage smacks of the mock indignation of Captain Renault in Casablanca – “I am shocked, shocked to find that there is gambling going on here”.

Only a few weeks ago, a Telegraph sting revealed another abortion scandal: that some doctors were aborting children because of their sex. The Health Secretary thundered that abortion clinics would be investigated.

You would have thought that the clinics would have tightened up their procedures in preparation for a raid. Obviously they didn’t. Were they so complacent that they thought abortion would always be exempt from public scrutiny?

Perhaps so. Abortion in Britain and elsewhere is protected by a postmodern chivalry based on the principle that women who support abortion are channeling Florence Nightingale. A Guardian columnist, Zoe Williams, defended BPAS over the paperwork scandal, describing it as ‘a charitable organisation staffed by women (I hope they won’t be offended) for whom the term ‘do-gooder’ was intended’).

This culture of deferential complacency sounds familiar. It echoes the observations of the Pennsylvania grand jury that investigated the stomach-churning Gosnell abortion mill last year. It concluded that there had been ‘a complete breakdown of oversight’. It said:

“The Pennsylvania Department of Health has deliberately chosen not to enforce laws that should provide abortion clinic patients with the same safeguards and assurances of quality health care as patients of other medical service providers. Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are more closely monitored for customer safety.

Has there been a complete regulatory breakdown in the UK too? It seems that doctors have been flouting the law for years and the regulators have deliberately chosen to ignore their arrogance. If the paperwork is not being done, what reassurance does the government and the public have that far worse scandals – even by the standards of the law in England and Wales – are not happening? None at all.

More importantly, doctors and abortion clinics are throwing sand in the wheels of democracy. The abortion law was passed with promises from politicians that women seeking abortions would be protected by strict safeguards. Now it is clear that these safeguards are being treated as a joke.

The rule of law is essential in a democracy. Non-enforcement of the law by politicians and civil servants out of loyalty to the higher ideology of abortion rights is profoundly anti-democratic.


Daniel Miller is responsible for nearly all of National Right to Life News' political writing.

With the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, Daniel Miller developed a deep obsession with U.S. politics that has never let go of the political scientist. Whether it's the election of Joe Biden, the midterm elections in Congress, the abortion rights debate in the Supreme Court or the mudslinging in the primaries - Daniel Miller is happy to stay up late for you.

Daniel was born and raised in New York. After living in China, working for a news agency and another stint at a major news network, he now lives in Arizona with his two daughters.

Order Now!


Latest articles

The EU’s plans for the abolition of the secrecy of digital letters

Surveillance of private chats without suspicion could soon become mandatory in the EU. This...

Lloyd’s: Government behind Nord Stream sabotage

About a month ago, Zug-based Nord Stream AG filed a lawsuit against its insurers....

More like this

Biden urges hostage deal

US President Biden has called on Qatar and Egypt to do everything possible to...

Trump trial: ex-president rushes from court to campaign trail

Update, 11:00 a.m.: In the U.S., experts are surprised that Judge Juan Merchan has...

Donald Trump Ignores Court Gag Order

Trump can't talk about those involved in the New York trial. The ex-president can,...