Philippa Taylor

The Abortion Industry is alive and well (funded)

Philippa Taylor was Head of Public Policy at CMF until September 2019 and now works with CARE. She has an MA in Bioethics from St Mary’s University College and a background in policy work on bioethics and family issues.
The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of CMF.



Twenty three years ago, in 1991, half of all abortions were paid for privately ie. they weren’t free. Now, only 2% of abortions are paid for privately.  Even if an abortion is carried out in a private sector clinic, it will almost always be paid for by the NHS.

A great deal has changed in the last twenty years.

In 1991 only 10% of abortions took place in private abortion clinics, paid for by the NHS, now it’s the majority. In 2013, the last year for which figures are available, 64% – nearly two thirds – of abortions were carried out in the independent, private, sector, paid for by the NHS.  A proportion that has been increasing steadily from year to year.

The total number of abortions for women in England and Wales in 2013 was 185,331.  98% of these abortions were completely funded by the NHS.

There are two main commissioned providers of abortion in England: the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) and Marie Stopes International (MSI).  Health Minister Earl Howe recently stated that the Department of Health received 53,630 abortion notifications from just the BPAS clinics in England and Wales in 2012.

Recently published figures from the BPAS accounts, for 2012 – 2013, make interesting reading (highlighted by LIFE recently):

  • 60,000 abortions were performed in their eight clinics and day-care units
  • 11 new day-care units were opened in the year, bringing the total to 30
  • Income was £27 million (mostly provided by UK taxpayers)
  • 697 staff were employed (354 full time equivalents)
  • 10 staff members earned between £60,000 – £100,000 with highest at £140,000
  • The cost of a private abortion at BPAS is between £545 and £1,695

MSI reports an annual income of £250 million, (not just from the UK). Part of this was spent on contraception thus (in their words): ‘preventing 2.1 million pregnancies’, and (again, their words): ‘averting 5.3 million unintended pregnancies‘, which I take to mean abortions. Around £14 million income was from NHS contracts.

33 employees of MSI earned between £60,000 and £100,000, with the highest at £300,000.

BPAS reports reveal that they are very business-oriented, with a clear objective to increase ‘treatments’ offered (read: abortions).

Under the achievements of BPAS they record that they have initiated: ‘Extended collaborative arrangements with the NHS in the south of England, opened 11 new treatment units and relocated two more to larger premises; extended the number of clinics able to offer surgical treatment.’

As a charitable activity (being a registered charity denotes tax status only), they generated £24.6 million specifically from: ‘termination of pregnancy advice treatment and care‘, which cost them £22.5 million. As a result they are able to record that: ‘The charity’s financial health is sound‘.

In 2013, under Budget achievements they: ‘Achieved an operating surplus to provide a significant resource for future re-investment in services to enable us to improve the client experience; invested in significant refurbishment of clinics.’

Not only do they intend to ‘increase the number and value of contracts with the NHS’ (ie. carry out even more of the UK’s abortions and increase the tax funding they get for doing them) they want to drive and influence policy. BPAS strategy for 2014-15 is to:

Increase the proportion of abortions in the UK that bpas provides.

‘Build upon bpas’ position as internationally recognised “thought leaders” in reproductive and sexual health and influence policy.’

But just to be clear, why and how do BPAS plan to ‘influence policy’?

They want to increase the number of abortions they provide:

To extend  services nationally to meet the needs of more clients…’

Our main priority … is to ‘grow’ our business by utilising and expanding our capacity to treat clients and extending our collaboration with the NHS.’

And ‘how’ they want to influence policy is neatly summarised in a recent article in the Independent, where the chief executive of BPAS argues strongly for abolishing any legal prohibition on abortion altogether.

Of course, the more women that have abortions, the more money BPAS and MSI receive. So the easier it becomes for women to have abortions, the better.

Abortion provision is a highly profitable industry, that relies heavily on taxpayer money and wants to grow its business. Even their pre-abortion ‘counselling’ sessions of just 30 minutes cost between £65-£80.

It is surely clear who has the most to gain from women choosing to have abortions, who has the vested financial interest, whose existence depends on demand, and who wants to actually increase the total number of women having abortions.

BPAS and MSI are going to carry on doing abortions on behalf of the NHS. But they need to stick to just that and not to mix in provision of counselling and advice for women prior to decision-making. And they ought to be more open about their conflict of interests.

It’s not just women who should know this, but policy makers should also be acutely aware of the drive of the abortion industry and abortion providers to increase the number and value of abortions because their business depends on it. (Any major reduction in abortion rates would threaten their very existence!)

The agenda of these private abortion providers is to grow their business, to increase the numbers of abortions, funded almost entirely by the tax-payer.

So who are policy makers listening to? To those profiting financially from an increasing ‘market share’, who are given the freedom to create and drive policy which is then rubber stamped by the department of health?

This lucrative trade, whose leading beneficiaries are paid more than government ministers, from a shrinking health budget, operates under the protection of a bestowed charitable status. The whole situation raises all kinds of questions about non-democratic decision-making, vested financial interests, good governance and priorities in government spending. Serious questions need to be asked. I wonder who will be brave enough to ask them?

Posted by Philippa Taylor
CMF Head of Public Policy



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