UK Govt gives £42 Million to Marie Stopes and IPPF for overseas abortions

09 April 2019

Penny MorduantPenny Morduant
Penny Mordaunt has previously been criticised for funding IPPF when it was facing an investigation into into allegations of sexual misconduct and corruption

“The UK has been a world leader in this area and will proudly continue to be one.”

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt yesterday announced a £42 million programme to look at the “neglected issue” of safe abortion in developing countries.

Ms Mordaunt unveiled the new UK spending during a speech at Canada House about the UK’s leadership with Canada on gender equality.

Millions for abortion giants

The speech was couched in the language of “Comprehensive Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR)”, but on this occasion the International Development Secretary was explicit that the money was to be given to the world’s two largest abortion providers and spent on abortion. “A new £42 million programme looking at SRHR will support two consortia of NGO partners on this theme, and I am pleased to announce that these will be led by Marie Stopes International and the International Planned Parenthood Federation,” she said.

“This programme will drive innovation and learning by bringing diverse partners together to work on complex and neglected issues such as increasing access to safe abortion and improving the provision of SRHR in crisis settings.”

UK "proudly" exporting abortion

Alluding to America’s efforts to stop taxpayer money being spent on overseas abortions, Ms Mordaunt said: “There are people around the world who want to control women, who want to restrict their choices and deny them their rights…Everyone should have control over their own bodies and their own futures. That means every girl and every woman having access to the information they need, the freedom to choose what’s right for them, and the services and support they need to make their own decisions.”

She went on: “The UK has been a world leader in this area and will proudly continue to be one.”

The UK in indeed a leader in exporting abortion overseas. Britain was already the second biggest funder of family planning programmes in the world before Theresa May pledged a further £200 million for family planning last year. This is despite a ComRes poll showing that 65% of the public oppose UK taxpayer money being spent on abortions overseas.

Ignoring scandals

In the last five years Marie Stopes alone has been given £163.01 million, and the organisation's financial report revealed that DFID was the single biggest donor, granting £44 million. This is despite the scandal in 2016 where Care Quality Commission inspectors found conditions so bad it was forced to suspend abortion services. The most recent report, of the MSI Maidstone clinic, found, in addition to dozens of health and safety violations, that staff called the centre a "cattle market" and were given bonuses based on pressuring women who had decided against abortion to go ahead with it.

Also showing how little scrutiny abortion providers are subject to before being given taxpayers money, The International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF) was given £132 million from the aid budget when investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct and corruption at the abortion giant were ongoing.

Saving lives?

In her speech, Ms Mordaunt said “leadership means not shying away from the issues of access to safe abortion, when the evidence shows us that these services save women’s lives.”

However, The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (Icai) last year slammed her department for focusing on family planning at the expense of maternal health, and questioned the claims made about lives saved. Most damningly, the report says: "most maternal deaths result from intentional pregnancies, rather than accidental ones, and are therefore not prevented by access to contraception...We find that DFID did not pursue the strengthening of health systems to provide quality maternal care with the same intensity as it did for family planning, nor did it do enough to address the barriers that the poorest women face in accessing health services."

Icai is not alone in raising serious concerns that DFID pushes the abortion agenda at the expense of women's lives. As Fiorella Nash explores in detail in her new book, The Abolition of Woman, the push to end "unsafe abortion" (which is given no clear definition) means resources are diverted from interventions which are known to reduce maternal mortality.

Cultural imperialism

John Deighan, deputy CEO of SPUC, criticised said it was "reprehensible" that taxpayer money was being spent on abortion overseas when there were pressing areas of need at home.

"The governments of the UK and Canada bring shame on western society in their latest initiative to spread abortion in the name of sustainable development," he said.

"It is deeply troubling that UK taxpayers' money will be used to fund the ongoing cultural imperialism of developing countries, which endeavours to spread abortion to countries which typically have great respect for life in the womb.”

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