Restrictions on British abortion group will extend to Northern Ireland

Rival abortion group calls on head of Marie Stopes International to resign

By Dave Andrusko

Simon Cooke, chief of Marie Stopes International chain of abortion clinics

Simon Cooke, chief of Marie Stopes International chain of abortion clinics

Additional worrisome details are coming out which give us a fuller picture why the Care Quality Commission suspended most abortions at the Marie Stopes International chain of abortion clinics in England. MSI and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service are the primary abortion providers in the United Kingdom, as NRL News Today reported last week.

By way of summarizing the “serious concerns” we reported about on Friday, the Care Quality Commission (CQC)

• Suspended termination of pregnancy provision for under-18s and vulnerable groups of women.

• Suspended terminations under general anaesthetic or conscious sedation.

• Suspended all surgical terminations at its Norwich center.

We learn a great deal from stories in the Daily Mail and the Irish Times.

#1. “While the Care Quality Commission has a regulatory remit in England it does not operate in Northern Ireland where the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQUI) has responsibility. Nonetheless, the spokesman for Marie Stopes said the restrictions on abortions also would apply in Belfast.”

According to Gerry Moriarty of the Irish Times

Bernadette Smyth, director of the Precious Life group in Northern Ireland, said the concerns raised by the commission demonstrated that the Marie Stopes organisation was “not to be trusted.” She called on the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority to immediately inspect its Belfast clinic.

When MSI was questioned by the Northern Assembly justice committee in 2013, representatives refused to disclose how many abortions it had carried out at its Belfast clinic, or planned to.

The controversy is taking place as pro-abortion forces are laying siege to Ireland’s and Northern Ireland’s protective abortion laws.

#2. The CQC did not inspect MSI in 2014/2015.

#3. Full details of what the CQC found will not be available until the fall. What was not known Friday (or at least not revealed in initial press accounts) was that there had been planned inspections at MSI centers in England. Moriarty of the Irish Times reported

These inspections, according to the commission, identified a number of concerns linked to its governance arrangements. As a result the CQC carried out an unannounced inspection of Marie Stopes International’s corporate headquarters in England last month and of its call centre last Friday week.

#4. Colin Fernandez, Science Correspondent for The Daily Mail, reported that Mark Bhagwandin, media officer for the pro-life organization “Life” said

This is not the first time that Marie Stopes clinics have been in the news. If in the United Kingdom a regulatory body has to step in to save patients, we must rightly wonder about the safety of millions of women who go to this organisation’s clinics worldwide where there may not be regulatory bodies like the CQC.

‘It will be interesting to see what the full conclusions of the report are as after all they do receive a lot of tax payers’ money, and if women are not being treated safely it will be a matter of huge public concern.’


In recent years MSI has come under scrutiny following the deaths of two women. According to Fernandez

Aisha Chithira, 32, died after travelling to England from Ireland to have a termination at a Marie Stopes clinic in Ealing, west London on January 21, 2012.

In June, a doctor and two nurses were initially accused of manslaughter by gross negligence over the case, but a judge at the Old Bailey ordered that the case should be dropped after days of legal argument.

In a further case, MSI was criticised in 2009 by The West Yorkshire coroner, Roger Whittaker, for failings that meant a 15-year-old girl, Alesha Thomas, was discharged before she was given a prescription for antibiotics to prevent infection at a Marie Stopes Clinic in Leeds two years earlier.

A spokesman for MSI said the death of Miss Chithira was ‘totally unrelated’ to the present investigation while improvements to procedures had been made since the death of Miss Thomas.

Ann Furedi

Ann Furedi

#5. The head of MSI’s rival, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), told Fernandez that Simon Cooke, chief of MSI, should step down. Ann Furedi, the chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said her board “would be calling on me to resign,” if she was in the same situation.

I actually believe my board chair, and chairman of our clinical governance committee would be looking at this in this way.

It’s a huge failure.

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