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UK abortion facility accused of pressuring staff to persuade women to have abortion

(Wikimedia Commons/Kim Traynor)Marie Stopes House in Whitfield Street, London.

Marie Stopes International, one of the largest abortion providers in the U.K., has been accused of pressuring its staff to encourage women to abort their babies.

A report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has claimed that the staff at Marie Stopes felt "encouraged" to persuade women to have abortions because it was "linked to their performance bonuses."

According to Daily Mail, the inspectors have found evidence that the staff at Britain's 70 Marie Stopes clinic have been instructed to contact women who had decided against having an abortion and offer them a new appointment.

They also uncovered documents that mentioned a "company-wide focus" on women who decided not to proceed with an abortion and referring to them as "Did Not Proceed" patients.

Staff at the Maidstone branch of Marie Stopes told the inspectors that the facility was like a "cattle market." They added that the clinic had a "very target-driven culture," with around 70,000 patients being seen for abortions and other sexual health services each year.

The report noted that the parents, partners or friends of pregnant women thinking about an abortion were "seen as an inconvenience" and that "their presence was strongly discouraged."

The inspectors also raised concerns that girls under the age of 16 were undergoing abortions without being informed about the risks and consequences.

"Staff without appropriate safeguarding training were making decisions about the treatment of children attending the clinic," the report noted, according to The Independent.

The clinic said that it is "categorically untrue" that the staff bonuses are linked to the number of women who went ahead with the terminations.

Conservative MP Fiona Bruce said that she was shocked to hear about the report's findings. "Abortion clinics are taking advantage of pregnant women by seeking to do as many abortions as they can, rather than seeking to give genuine, non-directional counselling and advice," she said.

"This completely undermines the legitimacy of these publicly funded organisations, and must be investigated," she added.

Richard Bentley, managing director of Marie Stopes, acknowledged that the abortion provider evaluates its staff based on "key performance indicators" that relate to quality and client care, but he denied that the indicators are related to the number of clients treated at the clinic. He also denied that the staff receives a performance bonus for the number of clients they treat.

"Informed choice is at the heart of our charity's mission, and every woman we serve is talked through her options before booking an appointment and again at the clinic," Bentley said, adding that the clinic does not proceed with a termination if there are indications that a woman is unsure about her decision.

CQC inspectors have reportedly visited a Marie Stopes clinic in Maidstone and found some improvements since the last inspection, but they could not confirm whether the bonus incentive was in place.

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