As abortion providers fail women again, it’s time for a better way

It’s been an interesting week for the abortion industry. 

It came to light that a woman is considering taking legal action against major abortion provider Marie Stopes, after an extremely traumatic experience taking ‘DIY’ abortion pills. In a press release by Christian Concern, ‘Sophie’, who had to have surgery after taking the pills, says she felt she wasn’t “properly checked or even cared about”; that “counselling was not available” when she needed it most. Sophie goes on to say: “There must be proper assessments for women in crisis pregnancies rather than being rushed through such a traumatic process.”

It follows a report from the BBC this week that Wales needs ‘better counselling services’ for women in crisis pregnancy situations/seeking abortion. The BBC reported that 31-year-old Nikita Jain Jones “was told there was a four-month wait for pre-abortion counselling via her GP as she could not get a face-to-face appointment via the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS).”

This comes on the back of findings from the Department of Health and Social care that “52 women had been prescribed the medications for abortion-at-home, even though the gestational age was beyond the 10 week legal limit.” (Source: Percuity).

These 52 illegal abortions do not include other findings from a mystery client investigation conducted by Christian Concern earlier this year. Led by former Marie Stopes International Director Kevin Duffy, the investigation found BPAS and Marie Stopes to be sending women abortion pills in the post without even completing basic ID checks, let alone proper examination or any form of counselling. 

Unsurprisingly, when this news surfaced, BPAS tried to redirect the focus back to Christian Concern for spending NHS money under false pretences – a feeble attempt to distract from the appalling lack of proper procedure taking place under their own auspices.

All told, it’s a bleak picture. 

‘No support’

The BBC article focuses on the lack of access to counselling offered by abortion providers for women in crisis pregnancy situations – ostensibly due to the pandemic (but could it also have anything to do with the fact that they are primarily abortion providers who get paid for what they do?)

31-year-old Nikita ended up having an abortion without accessing any counselling, which affected her physical and mental health. “I really struggled for the first couple of weeks following the abortion, I was bleeding heavily, I had clots, it was really painful and I had no support,” she told the BBC. 

Interestingly, another woman interviewed anonymously said: “It feels like, although you’re totally free to have an abortion, it still feels as if you’re doing something wrong”.

It’s not the first time I’ve read such mixed up statements. Some years ago the BBC ran a feature article on abortion regret, and it was clear that some of the women felt a sense of guilt, despite affirming that they believed it was the ‘right decision’. 

Destigmatising abortion is not progressive

Proponents of abortion don’t quite know what to make of these conflicting stories, so they try and push the blame on social stigma. Julie Richards, trustee for Fair Treatment for the Women of Wales, said: “I think because of the silence or the stigma surrounding abortion, there isn’t enough information out there for women, especially for young women.

“We as a society, as women and men, need to speak about our experiences and take out all of the emotion, because it’s such a divisive topic.”

Richards is correct that there should be more information available to women, but the idea of speaking without emotion on such a topic is farfetched, to say the least. 

And perhaps unsurprisingly, the idea of stigma doesn’t sit right. 

It’s odd that as a society we continue to blame our discomfort with abortion on ‘stigma’. Usually, stigma fades as ideas become outdated through escaping ignorance. But can we apply this to abortion? As time has passed we have become more aware of the humanity of the unborn child, not less. We have better technology to help us to see the child in the womb and understand their development; we have better medicine to save or treat children who have been diagnosed with health conditions. 

Surely, then, there should be MORE stigma around abortion, now more of us are aware of what abortion actually is? Why do abortion providers keep pushing this narrative that removing abortion stigma is progressive? 

There is nothing progressive about knowing that the child in the womb is human, and continuing to deny them their basic right to life. There is nothing progressive about believing that this is an acceptable way to deal with a woman’s circumstances. 

The crux of the matter

The humanity of the unborn child is a problem that neither the abortion providers nor the media outlets can fix. They can ban people from standing outside abortion clinics, handing out leaflets or offering to speak to the women entering. They can arrest people like my friend Christian Hacking for praying.

They can continue to offer ‘DIY abortion’, and in doing so further seek to normalise abortion as a ‘medical treatment’. They can continue to peddle the narrative that abortion is an essential part of ‘healthcare’. But none of this will change what abortion is. None of this will address the very real trauma, pain, regret and emptiness that some women experience following an abortion – either immediately afterwards, or years down the line. 

I too want to see women in crisis pregnancy situations able to access better counselling services. Think of the estimated 38,000 women who accessed the abortion pills-by-post service this year – a service found to not even carry out basic ID checks, let alone counselling. How many of these women could have chosen life if they’d been offered more in the way of support?

But the real crux of the matter is that even if BPAS and Marie Stopes’ counselling services were better and more accessible, counselling alone will not make a woman’s abortion decision okay. 

Telling a woman a decision is ‘right for her’ does not make it so. And until we start to speak honestly to women about that, we will continue to see many more women (and men) left confused and hurt.

A better way

As a trustee for Pregnancy Crisis Helpline, which seeks to offer an honest and compassionate breakdown of all a woman’s options without wading into moral relativism, I’ve heard heart-breaking stories relayed by our volunteers from women who called us after being failed by the abortion industry. ‘Sophie’, the lady who is considering legal action against Marie Stopes, is one of the ladies we are privileged to be helping. 

Stories like hers’ deserve to be told – not “without emotion”, as Fair Treatment for Women trustee Julie Richards seems to believe, but in their rawness. Her Truth is a ministry which airs those deeply painful and important stories. 

The truth is coming out. Thanks to the age of the internet, the counter-narrative is being told and better services for women are being built and promoted – services that empower women to choose life and live regret-free.

We can’t do this alone – do consider supporting one of the ministries or organisations I’ve mentioned above! Get in touch if you want further info!

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