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Marie Stopes makes new legal threat to pro-lifers

By on Thursday, 6 September 2012

Pro-lifers pray outside an abortion clinic in Bedford Square, London (PA photo)

Pro-lifers pray outside an abortion clinic in Bedford Square, London (PA photo)

A leading abortion provider has been accused of “disgraceful intimidation” for attempting to halt a prayer vigil outside a London clinic with a new round of legal threats.

Lawyers acting for Marie Stopes Interational (MSI) threatened to report pro-life activists to the Advertising Standards Authority over their claims of a link between abortion and breast cancer.

Kirkland & Ellis International, a City law firm, has also warned the Good Counsel Network that it would also seek legal action through the courts to suppress a leaflet offered to pregnant women entering the Whitfield Street clinic which claims a causal link between abortion and breast cancer.

Lawyers say MSI also strongly objects to the claims contained in the leaflet, called “Pregnant … Worried?”, that abortions can cause infertility and lead to possible mental health problems.

“If you do not stop distributing the leaflet within 10 working days of the date of this letter MSI is considering making a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority and the courts on the basis that the information published in the leaflet regarding the physical and psychological implications of abortion is misleading or false,” said a letter to the pro-life group.

In July MSI had also threatened to take out an injunction to stop Good Counsel from using “baby pink” rosary beads to allegedly harass pregnant women.

Neil Addison, the director of the Thomas Law Legal Centre, the charity representing the pregnancy counselling group, described the latest threat as “legally fatuous” and accused MSI of intimidation.

“While Good Counsel is prepared if necessary to defend before the ASA or a court everything said in their leaflets the fundamental point is that the ASA does not have jurisdiction over leaflets distributed as part of a protest, which is MSI’s description of the vigil Good Counsel hold outside the MSI clinic,” said Mr Addison, a barrister.

“To give a comparison, if the Trades Union Congress was to organise a protest against Government cuts and distributed leaflets about their effect, is anybody seriously suggesting that the Government could report the TUC to the ASA because the Government disagreed with the TUC’s analysis as to the consequences of the cuts?

“The idea is, of course, preposterous but so is MSI’s suggestion that Good Counsel could be reported to the ASA with regard to its leaflets.

“In addition, the medical evidence regarding the effects of abortion is complex and there are a large number of medical and scientific reports reaching different conclusions on the issue.

“Frankly, the ASA has neither the jurisdiction nor the professional competence to decide whether Good Counsel or MSI are right concerning the effects of abortion.”

Mr Addison added: “Good Counsel and its members have a right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

  • Alexander

    We pro-lifers must be having an effect: Maria Stopes International look pretty rattled by all of this.

    And their having to resort to novel legal challenges based on advertising regulations to suppress what is essentially an open ended scientific question is beyond parody. This is uplifting stuff in its own way…..

  • Just_a_simpleton

    I hope this will encourage the 40 Days for Lifers to keep up the good work.  If it wasn’t having a positive effect MSI wouldn’t be acting so foolishly

  • JabbaPapa

    These people are satanic — “Frankly, the ASA has neither the jurisdiction nor the professional competence to decide whether Good Counsel or MSI are right concerning the effects of abortion.”

    Well they’re obviously a bit thick then — the effects of abortion are that babies are murdered.

    There is no other outcome.

  • http://blog.echurchwebsites.org.uk/ Stuart @ eChurch Blog

    Like it or not, claiming a causal link between abortion and breast cancer is not grounded scientifically.

  • ColdStanding

    But the causal link between abortion and death is very well established and beyond question.  

  • Honeybadger

    Keep up the good work, pro-lifers! Give those death merchants what for!

  • scary goat

     I’m glad you said satanic….that’s what I’ve been thinking the last few days on various threads here. That was pretty much what I was thinking when I made comments like “the Catholic faith is the only way to live, and how do we relate to others who do not share our views”.  It is not that those people are evil…..they are just people who are misinformed….but the people doing the misinforming, and for what reason….that’s got me worried.

    Regarding abortion and breast cancer, infertility and psychological problems, I am not a doctor or a psychologist, I don’t know how reliable these claims are.  I tend to think we should concentrate on the MAIN ISSUE here….as you said above, the effects of abortion are that babies are murdered.  Not much need for any other supporting issues that may be challenged.  Keep it simple and keep to the main point. 

    Who allowed independent abortion providers anyway? What happened to having to go through your GP? Where is the personal touch, the counselling?

    What is wrong with our society??????? What’s the matter with people?????? How did mass abortion ever become acceptable????? I suppose the answer is lack of a faith system. So I’m back to square one: the Catholic faith is the only way to live and how do we relate to those who do not share our views?

    Do a much bigger and better job of advertising Catholic moral and social teachings to the public?  Even if they do not share our faith, people with good hearts might relate to our social teachings and if people become interested in that aspect of it, might they not then look into it further?

  • Jihn

    If pro-lifers have more courage and persistence than pro-abortionists then Pro-lifers will win.  They shall test whether the radical feminists are willing to dedicate their lives to their cause of fetal destruction.

  • Johannes

    Maybe not, but science is about the free discussion of ideas, and it is frankly hypocritical for an organisation that facilitates murder-on-demand for the most spurious of ‘psychological’ reasons to then try and suppress real and legitimate scientific conjecture simply because it harms their profit margins.

    Science is, and always has been, an open source model of investigation. Marie Stopes should realize that this concept works both ways, even, and especially, when it’s not to their liking.

  • spudbynight

    The ASA is a self-regulatory body for the advertising industry. It has no judicial powers and any judgements passed have as much legal weight as those I might pass.

    If MariaStopes’s legal counsel believe this to be an effective tactic then I would advise Maria Stope to seek alternative and competent representation. 

    (Well, actually I hope they stick with the incompetent lot they have)

  • Bob Churchill

    A bit rich to accuse Marie Stopes of “intimidation”; they’re not the ones standing around outside offices glaring at people who are trying to use a legal advice service, or harassing them by presenting exaggerated risks.

    (By the way the quote “disgraceful intimidation” mentioned in the opening line is not sourced or quoted again in this article, so it’s unclear if it comes from Mr Addison or is just the voice of the Catholic Herald. Also note the photograph is only partially described; the larger crowd in the background are pro-choice supporters at the counter-campaign on Bedford Square earlier this year, which significantly outnumbered the 40 Day for Life crowd.)

  • scary goat

     Wooow…..talk of the devil

  • teigitur

    Quality is important, not quantity.

  • tonywaring

     Well obviously you have’nt read any of the studies.

  • http://blog.echurchwebsites.org.uk/ Stuart @ eChurch Blog

    Au contraire Tony. I have spent considerable time looking at the studies:

    Abortion Breast Cancer hypothesis and undermining the Pro-Life argument

    That was frankly a silly retort….

  • http://twitter.com/theodota3 tenpaean

    Results from major prospective studies
    The largest, and probably the most reliable, study on this topic was done during the 1990s in Denmark, a country with very detailed medical records on all its citizens. In this study, all Danish women born between 1935 and 1978 (a total of 1.5 million women) were linked with the National Registry of Induced Abortions and with the Danish Cancer Registry. All of the information about their abortions and their breast cancer came from registries – it was very complete and was not influenced by recall bias.
    After adjusting for known breast cancer risk factors, the researchers found that induced abortion(s) had no overall effect on the risk of breast cancer. The size of this study and the manner in which it was done provide good evidence that induced abortion does not affect a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.Again, because they were asked about childbirths and abortions at the start of the study, recall bias was unlikely to be a problem. After adjusting for known breast cancer risk factors, the researchers found no link between either spontaneous or induced abortions and breast cancer.Another large, prospective study was reported on by Harvard researchers in 2007. This study included more than 100,000 women who were between the ages of 29 and 46 at the start of the study in 1993. These women were followed until 2003.

  • Emma07

    When i was a Student, i had to to an essay on “Why Abortion is acceptable in today’s society”.  I told my tutor that I couldn’t in all conscience write such a thing and she told me if i didn’t hand in a relevant assignment I’d be thrown off the course.  So i just wrote that i didn’t agree with her hypothesis and dismantled it point by point.  The essay was returned unmarked!!!!!!!! harassment or what?  It’s all rather Orwellian I think- every view is respected but some are more respected than others.

  • Acleron

    The trouble with your objection is that abortion is acceptable. That is a fact. Surely, all you had to do was write down the reasons why people found it acceptable. That is not the same as accepting it yourself. It would also have given you a better insight into those that accept abortion and might have changed your mind or at least given you a greater ability to argue against those who support it. So no, it wasn’t Orwellian in the least and quite the reverse, it was making you think for yourself about the pros and cons and not just have a knee jerk reaction.

  • http://twitter.com/LaCatholicState la catholic state

    Just because something is legal….doesn’t mean it is not evil.  The Holocaust was legal in Germany…..remember?!

  • Sweetjae

    These abortion people are really just satanic in their thinking and actions! Yet they have the audacity to call faithful catholics as extremists! Just defending the weakest of all is called an extremist and killing the innocent is called human reprductive rights?

  • whytheworldisending

    If Marie Stopes follow a course of conduct designed to harass and/or intimidate pro-lifers to stop them providing information to women, they may be guilty of a crime under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Stopes cannot be pro-womens’ rights if they are prepared to subvert womens’ right to make their own decisions, by keeping them in the dark so that they can’t make an informed choice and they cannot be pro-choice if they want to stop women from hearing the truth, since nobody can make an informed choice if they are prevented from finding out all of the facts. They seem to be about profit not people.

  • whytheworldisending

    Getting someone to write an essay purporting to argue from a point of view that they oppose is a standard way of trying to manipulate their views without their consent. Cognitive dissonance is being employed in order to bend the view of the writer (I don’t believe this + I am writing this = I must actually believe it after all). Of course add, “I am being forced to write this” and it descends from a bog-standard form of brainwashing to megalomaniacal and oppressive totalitarian crap (= militant atheism). If there was a grain of sense in atheism, there would be no need to use threats to force young minds into acquiescence. Christianity in contrast respects the freedom of the individual.

  • Basil Loftus

    These people who stand up for life are the real heroes of the 21st Cent!

  • Basil Loftus

    Well done young people standing up for Life!

  • Acleron

    Your point about the manipulation of views is correct providing the alternative is not completely incompatible. In this case, I doubt Emma07′s views would be changed. Perhaps the teacher should have asked for an essay on the reasons for banning abortion the following week.

    But christianity does not respect the individual, preventing AIDS prone populations from using condoms is just one example.

  • Guest

     Thanks for the details. So breast cancer is not a risk increased by inducing an abortion; the rest of the risks, however, remains very real.

    Realist

  • whytheworldisending

    There are no such things as “AIDS prone populations.” There are individuals who engage in sex outside of marriage, and there are vested interests who fetter free choice by indoctrinating individuals with nonsense for corrupt idological reasons. It is deceitful nonsense to tell people that the many evils caused by fornication can be eradicated with one quack remedy like a condom. Even the evil of AIDS and other STD’s cannot be avoided in that way. When multiple evils ensue from a particular behaviour the only rational way to proceed is to avoid the behaviour. Take the rise in skin cancer caused by sunbathing. Giving people sun screen did not lower cancer rates because they simply sun bathed more in the false belief that the sun screen made them safe. The same is true of contraception and STD’s. Now even if contraceptives could prevent the transmission of STD’s, they would not prevent all of the other evils which flow from fornication. They would not prevent the breakdown of marriage, families and society. They would not prevent children being traumatised by the breakup of their homes. They would not prevent the increase in promiscuity and licentiousness that is the cause of the increasing number of horrendous sex crimes against the vulnerable, and they would not prevent women being treated as sex objects by society. You cannot respect individuals at the same time as condeming them to such a hellish existence without informing them that they are being enslaved and manipulated. Christianity frees people by giving them the truth. Those who oppose the truth are usually selling something – contraceptives for example. They don’t even see individuals – only markets.

  • Acleron

    Oh dear, sex outside marriage, what a problem.

    Oh grow up, your bogeyman ridden beliefs are not alleviating AIDS in HIV prevalent populations. In fact your misbegotten bronze age rules are actually killing people. Deal with that and stop trying to frighten people with non-existent nonsense.

  • whytheworldisending

    You are getting personal because you have no argument. Your brand of foolishness is the cause of the suffering, yet because you do not like the truth, you fail to see the simple facts. Your approach to AIDS is like someone saying we can keep death off the roads by driving on the pavement. It is garbage.

  • Acleron

    It is known that condoms reduce the death rate because they reduce the frequency of infection. Catholics lie about condoms to prevent their use. Catholics kill people. It is as simple as that. Rather than attempting to produce even more false analogies, argue about those facts.

    But if you want a closer analogy to what is happening in Africa, it is similar to banning the use of brakes and assuming that prayer will keep everyone safe.

  • whytheworldisending

    Can’t agree. Having sex outside marriage between a man and a woman is like driving when drunk or on drugs. You reduce deaths from dangerous driving by banning drink/drugged-driving. You don’t give them cars with better brakes, air-bags or anything else. They shouldn’t be driving at all, and it would be absurd to argue that they are going to anyway so lets help them drive safely. Giving people condoms is like giving a car to a drunk. Just as some fools argue that they know better than the law because for example they drive better after a few pints, atheists effectively argue that they know better than God. Both go against common sense because. Neither care about the victims, and that combination of not caring and self-delusion is what kills.

  • Acleron

    Comparing sex outside your rather limited definition of marriage to drunk driving is a good example of how off beat you are.

    You seem to miss the point, condoms save lives, catholics lie about their effectiveness and the motives of the people who supply them. Catholics are killing people as a result of a bronze age injunction from a shaman.