Coerced abortion is becoming commonplace in the UK

7th May 2019

woman taking many pills

A letter penned to an Agony Aunt has emphasised the need for immediate action to be taken against coerced or forced abortion in the UK.

The anonymous letter published in The Sun described a man forcing his girlfriend to undergo an abortion by ‘threatening to leave her.’ The letter read: “I am 12 weeks pregnant and already in love with the baby growing inside me. My boyfriend told me I would be on my own if I kept the baby. At first I agreed about an abortion. But then I told him, I couldn’t go through with it.”

Bullied to abort

The scandalous reality behind the veneer of choice, that abortion so commonly hides behind, is that the issue of coercion and forced abortion is becoming commonplace in the UK. Whilst coercion is chiefly carried out by intimate partners, it can also be initiated from a host of sources, including wider family, friends, health-workers or employers. Coercion can manifest in threats of violence, emotional blackmail and continuous pressure to undergo an abortion.

Research by polling company D-Cyfor recently revealed that one in seven UK women has been forced to undergo an abortion. Experts have also called for UK healthcare professionals to be vigilant in screening for coercion, after a study suggested that a quarter of US women were subjected to coercion surrounding an abortion decision, with the study branding coercion as ‘common.’

Pressure from providers

However, despite healthcare professionals being advised to be vigilant in spotting coercion, a shocking 2016 Care Quality Commission (CQC) report uncovered high-pressure sales practices within one of Britain’s largest abortion chains, Marie Stopes. The report which forced the abortion chain to temporarily halt almost half of their abortion procedures, found that Marie Stopes facilities were applying pressure to encourage more women to abort.

At one location, abortion providers were found to be ‘bulk signing’ patient consent forms without meeting with patients or discussing specific circumstances, meaning abortion providers were entirely unaware if coercion was at play. One section of the report uncovered that clinic staff were being paid financial bonuses for encouraging women to undergo abortions.  After the damning report was released, one woman came forward, claiming that her experience with the abortion chain was in line with the report’s findings. She said: “I saw several nurses and explained my situation. I felt like they wanted me to have an abortion. The place was chock-a block with people. It was like a conveyer belt. When I told them I didn’t want the abortion they accused me of wasting their time. I was ushered out of the door half-dressed and in tears.”

Coerced abortion is domestic abuse

Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline Director Louise Grant said: “The heart-breaking reality is that most women are pressurised or coerced in some way into an abortion decision, whether it be subtly, harshly, or somewhere between the two. A concerning 75% of women contacting ARCH have experienced some form of pressure or coercion, many not even realising at the time what or who she is being pressured by.”

Miss Grant continued: “While pressure may be directed from family, friends or even healthcare professionals, we find that it can come mostly from men. Some of these men may think they are acting with best intentions and are unaware of the damaging effect abortion can have on women. For this reason, society must improve its awareness of alternative options and support for those in difficult situations. Some men take a more violent approach, and for this reason society has a duty to recognise that abortion is a form of domestic abuse. In Scotland, and across the UK we have witnessed nothing less than complacency and silent collusion with this form of abuse. We need to extend our efforts to protect women from becoming victims of this abuse.”