On Thursday, January 2, 2020, an abortion center in Birmingham closed its doors permanently, leaving pro-lifers rejoicing.
The Calthorpe Clinic
The Calthorpe Clinic, which used to be a home for the elderly, became the first center in the U.K. solely dedicated to abortion in 1969. It became one of the busiest abortion clinics in the country — in 2007, the clinic was reportedly performing approximately 10,000 abortions annually. Initially a private business, it was taken over by Marie Stopes International in 2012. In recent years, the numbers have not been as high, but still significant: in 2017, 5,964 abortions occurred, and in 2018, 6,153 — it continued to be one of the top five busiest abortion centers in the U.K.
The Botched Abortion
The center has been mired in controversy, however. For example, in November 2000, an OB/GYN, Andrew Gbinigie, performed an abortion on a 21-year-old pregnant woman, during which he ruptured the uterus wall, removed her right ovary and Fallopian tube, as well as part of her bowel. The 20-week-old baby was partially dismembered, but most of the body remained floating in the woman’s blood-filled abdomen.
The doctor involved was hardly punished, being allowed to continue performing abortions, while the woman suffered two subsequent miscarriages and was told she was unlikely to have children at all. Thirty-five other women also came forward with allegations against the doctor.
In 2008, a nurse, Ann Downer, failed to carry out an identity check on a patient, leading her to give Misoprostol (a drug that causes abortion) to the wrong woman. She recalled the patient once she realized her mistake, but the damage had already been done— the woman had stomach pains and was already starting to bleed. The nurse, while being allowed to continue practicing, had a caution placed in her file for three years.
The other significant controversy was in 2012 when a doctor at the clinic was secretly filmed agreeing to an illegal abortion based on the sex of the baby. In the U.K., sex-selective abortion is illegal, though abortion clinic documentation may cite other reasons to circumvent the law, even if the main reason is the sex of the baby. Girls are disproportionately aborted in countries such as India and China, where boys are preferable; in 2014, a study suggested this phenomenon was occurring in the UK too. While pro-abortion advocates may scream and shout about “reproductive rights and freedom” for women, they fail to acknowledge the harm done to women and baby girls when botched abortions or sex-selective abortions occur. The pro-life movement cares for both the mother and the child — an end to abortion means more safety for women and girls.
After decades of prayer, including eight years of 40 Days For Life vigils, this centre has been closed down permanently at last. Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, who regularly participated in the vigils, said:
“We have faithfully waited many years to hear this news. We are so grateful to God for letting us see the fruit of our prayers. On my last day of prayer during the 40 Days for Life, a beautiful white dove walked out of the drive from the abortion center and sat at my feet for two hours; I felt it was a symbol of all the pure, innocent lives which had been snuffed out there and I dared to hope it might be a sign of peace to come. Now this place has closed, it’s time for us to move on to another abortion facility. While abortion is happening in our city, we will never be silent.”
The closure of this abortion clinic is encouraging for the pro-life movement; may more of us speak out and may more abortion centers close so women and girls can be protected from the horror of abortion.