There is an old saying, that when you are in a hole you should stop digging.
Ann Furedi, the chief of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (an abortion provider), would do well to remember that advice.
The Care Quality Commission has been inspecting abortion providers, including BPAS. The investigation was originally prompted by allegations that some clinics had been offering selective abortions of babies of the “wrong” sex. However, the investigation found widespread evidence that the clinics are systematically breaking the law in other areas.
Doctors were found to be regularly falsifying consent forms and patients were not receiving acceptable levels of advice and counselling in many clinics, the regulator said.
The Commission found that in some cases doctors were even pre-signing batches of consent forms, making a complete mockery of the law.
Now, Ms Furedi might be expected to say that it was completely wrong if clinics were breaking the law, that she condemned it if they were, and that BPAS would co-operate fully with the investigators to make sure that everything was above board.
Instead, she accused the Secretary of State for Health of mounting a politically motivated investigation. She said the Care Quality Commission had better things to do with its time:
I have to ask myself why is it that the Secretary of State has felt that it is so important to carry out this piece of work now and I think it’s politically driven.
They (the CQC) have had, apparently, inspectors into 250 clinics according to the Secretary of State, who have been inspecting this paperwork.
Now presumably, if they haven’t been in our clinics they would have been carrying on their other work in terms of looking at hospitals where people are suffering from all kinds of various other issues.
We know that it is an organisation that is severely under funded and has had huge problems and yet they have been prioritising the certification around abortion.
That really is drivel. No mainstream politician ever actually wants to open the can of worms that is abortion. The idea that Mr Lansley deliberately ordered the investigation for political reasons is absurd. Calling it “certification around abortion” really does just illustrate Ms Furedi’s attitude – it’s just a formality, just a box-ticking exercise.
There was more. Talking about the requirement for the consent of two doctors for any abortion, Ms Furedi claimed:
There’s a grey area about that. It’s clearly not best practice.
She is completely wrong. The 1967 Abortion Act is extremely clear on the requirement for the approval of two doctors for any abortion to be carried out. The fact that Ms Furedi thinks it is a legal grey area may well reflect the culture in BPAS, but it most certainly does not reflect the law. And it is not just a box-ticking exercise. It is supposed to ensure that women who have abortions give proper informed consent.
When abortion was legalised in 1967, quite strict safeguards were included in the new law, to meet some of the concerns of those who wanted to keep abortions illegal. Regardless of one’s own personal views on that, it is not acceptable for clinics to make the law up as they go along for their own convenience.
Unless the abortion industry wants to re-open that old debate about the very legality of abortion, they should clean up their act, and ensure they are in every respect following the law as it is, and not as they wish it to be.