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Minister Harris should heed scandals engulfing abortion clinics overseas

Health Minister Simon Harris intends passing a law that will regulate ‘rogue’ pro-life agencies that give bad advice to women. We don’t have any abortion clinics here and hopefully never will, but Minister Harris might like to pay attention to the scandals engulfing abortion clinics overseas, for example in the Netherlands and Britain. There is not the slightest reason to think similar things could not happen here.

In the Netherlands, almost half of abortion clinics have been closed after two newspaper investigations [1] exposed a massive financial fraud.    CASA clinics, which are responsible for nearly half of the 31,000 abortions per year in the Netherlands, have allegedly committed fraud worth a massive €15 million to date. The clinics have been accused of irregular billing practices for public subsidies, including claims for deep sedation and overall anesthesia that were never performed.

The “Follow the Money [2]” investigative website reports: “Consultations to clients were charged separately while they were already included in the price of a treatment. Foreign clients were overcharged for a second trimester abortion.” Health insurers were reimbursing certain operations on the assumption the were carried out by medical specialists. They were instead the work of basic physicians, for which lower rates apply.

Last week, all the seven CASA clinics have been declared bankrupt and shot down [3]. Eight other abortion clinics, from other companies, are still in operation but some of them are also under investigation. The whole Dutch abortion industry has been exposed and at risk of further closures.

Meanwhile in Britain, the employment of non-qualified personnel has been highlighted by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), following investigations on the Marie Stopes International clinics (MSI). Last year it was found that MSI put women at risk by failing to adequately train their staff and neglecting to obtain proper consent from patients [4].

According to the Guardian [5], “Doctors in one location, who were observed obtaining consent from a woman with a learning disability, failed to ensure she understood the procedure and handled the consultation “poorly and insensitively” … Some staff obtaining consent from patients also appeared to have insufficient knowledge of procedures.” Marie Stopes International had to suspend surgical abortions for girls under 18 and vulnerable women for a period after concerns were raised by the CQC about patient safety.

A further investigation this ye [6]ar found that staff were offered bonuses to persuade women to have abortions. The report states that: “staff were concerned that ‘Did Not Proceed’, the term used when women decided not to proceed with treatment, was measured as a key performance indicator and linked to their performance bonus. They felt that this encouraged staff to ensure that patients underwent procedures.” They discovered that it is common practice in Marie Stopes clinics to contact women that changed their minds about having an abortion and offer them a new appointment.

Some representatives of the abortion business were invited as “experts” at the Citizens’ Assembly and at the Oireachtas Committee on the 8th Amendment. These scandals were not highlighted.

Marie Stopes International is already operating in Northern Ireland and if abortion is introduced in the Republic we can expect that those clinics will operate here as well. As mentioned, Minister Harris seems to be concerned about crisis pregnancy agencies with a prolife ethos. What some of them have been accused of is nothing compared to the scandals mentioned above, scandals our own media haven’t bothered to highlight either.