by Susan Richardson
Last week, below an article exploring students’ views on abortion, the Examiner published a story of a 16-year old girl, in her own words, who went to Merseyside in England for an abortion last November. Though the headline above the newspaper article read The experience of one teenager who had termination in the UK, on the IOM Newspapers website this was changed to the much more nakedly biased, Teenager’s plight should shame us all.
No-one can deny the difficulty of this case. Here is a vulnerable 16-year old girl, who has found herself pregnant at far too young an age, and who then became seriously ill during her travel back to the Island after going through with an abortion. The girl herself, and those who support more permissive abortion legislation on the Isle of Man, point to this story as evidence that abortion should be more readily available on the Island. The reality is, however, that the full context and a more critical and fact-based appreciation of her story points to the opposite conclusion, and exposes multiple failures by society to this girl, and to her unborn child.
The most direct and horrifying way in which this girl was failed, was by the British abortion industry. Based on the details in her story, she would have gone to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) facility in Merseyside, a place related to which, according to a UK Clinical Quality Commission (CQC) Report only released in the last fortnight, 16 serious incidents were reported between January 2013 and February 2016, with 11 serious incidents being so grave that they resulted in “patients being transferred to the local NHS trust for emergency care”. Little wonder we learn that the NHS raised concerns with the CQC about this facility.
This itself came only a month after the CQC published a scathing report on abortion practices in Marie Stopes International (MSI) facilities across, which, when it was initially reported, led the abortion lobby to defend MSI and bemoan not the abuses they committed, but how their temporary shut-down would affect access to abortion.
So, apparently true to form, and for all the vaunted safety and counselling she states that they offered her, BPAS Merseyside let a 16-year old girl leave as an outpatient travelling back to the Isle of Man, when they knew she would start bleeding heavily within 4-6 hours, as the broken down womb lining and embryonic unborn child passed out of her uterus. She describes experiencing “quite severe pain, profuse sweating and going in and out of consciousness, all of this taking place in the airport toilet cubicle”, with her pain becoming so great that she required codeine (a powerful analgesic)!
Her story is reminiscent of the report in 2012 of a 32-year old Irish woman called Aisha Chithira, a mother-of-one who died from a heart attack in a taxi caused by extensive internal blood loss after she underwent an abortion at a Marie Stopes facility in west London. The experience of the Manx girl as with other stories like that of Chithira puts the lie to the standard abortion lobby argument that somehow restricting abortion puts the life of mothers in unplanned pregnancies at risk from unsafe abortions: clearly, legal abortion itself carries safety issues, even if it were not the case that there has never been a serious scandal on the Island of unsafe abortions for the over two decades we have had the current law.
What happened to this 16-year old girl is a drastic and appalling failure of care, yet instead of faulting the abortion facility for this horrid experience, the implication of her piece is that Manx law is to blame. In reality, it protects women and unborn children from the harms of permissive abortion, and to blame the restrictions in the 1995 Act for what she went through sadly deflects from the real faults evidenced by her testimony.
The shame that is to be had in this story is on the part of the abortionists in the UK, who released her as an outpatient when they knew the miscarriage they caused would begin in transit. These failures are inexcusable, especially when we know from stories such as that of 13-year old Ashli Blake in 2014, that abortion in such a young person can not only cover up sexual abuse, but lead them to suicide. If even the closely regulated British abortion industry can engage in such failures, we know that they could occur here on the Island if permissive abortion laws were introduced by Tynwald.
By contrast then, what we should be not be shamed by and instead celebrate, are the protections contained in our native legislation. These came about due to the wise lessons Tynwald learnt from the failures across, which have only got worse over time. The story of this girl shows that we are right to safeguard pregnant women and their unborn children from the abuses of permissive abortion. Indeed, as she herself reported:
“One thing I took note of when I was in the clinic waiting room was the similar facial expression that every woman in there had, the look of emptiness and just feeling emotionally drained by this traumatic choice”.
These words here illustrate powerfully the reality of abortion in the UK, as elsewhere, and the distress and the depression with which it is associated. Abortion is not a help or a needed choice, but the tragic killing of an unborn child that often hurts and traumatises her mother.
There are other failures to point to, and we shall deal with that in the second part of this analysis next week, but in the meantime, let’s ‘hear’ the real problems in this story, and truly learn from them.