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Marie Stopes providing abortions based on 20-second consultations, claims new investigation

A Marie Stopes clinic (Getty)

Britain’s second-largest abortion provider is offering abortions to women based on a 20-second conversation with call centre workers, a Daily Mail investigation has claimed.

An undercover reporter called Marie Stopes and asked for an abortion, saying: “I just don’t want to have the baby.” The call centre worker replied: “That will come under ‘emotional reasons’”. The exchange took 22 seconds.

The law says that two doctors can approve an abortion if “the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family”.

Doctors must form this opinion “in good faith”. But the Mail described the brief consultation as “slapdash, production-line procedures”. It added: “Predictably, Marie Stopes is blasé about the fact that we have moved by stealth to a system where there is virtually abortion on demand, with almost no safeguards.”

A woman who had an abortion at a Marie Stopes clinic, Jade Stevens, said: “It was like a conveyor belt. Some [women] were really upset, they were crying but there was no support for them.” She added: “It was one in, and literally five minutes later, another one in. They were doing it so quickly.”

A former abortionist at a Marie Stopes clinic, Dr John Parsons, wrote in the Mail that he had felt uncomfortable because “the aim was always to save money”, sometimes at the expense of patients.

Last year, the provider suspended some services after the Care Quality Commission found a lack of oversight and implementation of standards.

Paul McPartlan, managing director at Marie Stopes UK, said: “We do not agree with the conclusions this journalist has reached, which give a seriously misleading view of how our services operate. No reporter in this investigation went through the legal admission process that women must go through before receiving an abortion, so their claims are based on a partial view of the process.”

McPartlan added: “No abortion is carried out in our clinics unless two doctors are satisfied that the legal requirements have been fulfilled, the woman has understood her treatment and consented to the procedure during a face to face appointment with a registered nurse, and there are no medical reasons why it shouldn’t proceed.”