Access to abortions in the UK is under threat – thanks to ‘Pregnancy Crisis Centres’

Crossroads Crisis Pregnancy Centre and the counsellor did not respond to Panorama’s request for comment. 

In my neck of the woods, Tyneside Pregnancy Advice Centre in Newcastle lists its “Christian ethos” on its website and is ran by anti-abortion NHS paediatrician Dr Chris Richards. An undercover reporter told an adviser she married with two children, to which they asked her to consider, “Would you be able to tell your daughters about having a termination? Or would it be something you’d always have to keep quiet about?” 

This is manipulative beyond words; perhaps even worse, she was given a leaflet which suggested having an abortion meant you weren’t fit to be “around children,” as the advisor reportedly told her. The advisor added that if she still wanted an abortion, she could go to the NHS. 

Tyneside Pregnancy Advice Centre director Dr Chris Richards said, “We have a 14-year track record of compliance with all our regulatory obligations, and over 1,200 women have benefited from the work of our staff and volunteers.”

He added that anyone who has read the centre’s website can see “where they are coming from.”

The advisor did not respond to Panorama’s request for comment.

Perhaps the most shocking was the case of the centre in Belfast run by the influential American anti-abortion group Stanton International, which says it’s “a safe place where women are empowered to make their best choice.” This was anything but the case for Ashleigh, who contacted Panorama after using the service in 2021.

Despite being told she could get an abortion at the centre, Ashleigh claimed this wasn’t true and she says she was told she’d need an ultrasound, during which she was forced to look at the image of her unborn twins. She left the centre and got an abortion elsewhere but said the experience left her traumatised. 

The use of ultrasounds is a common tactic in anti-abortion centres, to manipulate pregnant people into keeping their babies after seeing them, as it makes it more real, thus piling on the guilt.

Danielle Versluys, Stanton International’s Chief Operating Officer, told Panorama she was not prepared to discuss ‘post-abortive syndrome’ but added, “Within our clinics, women are advised that having an abortion could lead to lifelong grief, sorrow, regret and it can impact them negatively.”

Asked about their leaflets, Mrs Versluys said, “I don’t believe it’s inappropriate to show a woman what the actual outcome of an abortion is.”

Defending Stanton’s use of ultrasound scans, she said, “The truth should not be hidden from women…And so to provide a medical scan… is absolutely acceptable and called for and necessary for a woman to make an informed choice.”

“We are committed to providing women with the truth and with the resources that they need to make the best possible decisions for them and their baby,” Mrs Versluys said.

As Stanton Healthcare will only see women who test positive on-site, Claire, who was 10 weeks into a planned pregnancy, agreed to secretly film for the show. She was told that she would suffer from post-abortion syndrome, which “erodes your mental health” for six months to six years, Panorama reports. She was also told, “within 48 hours, your baby will die of hunger and thirst. It will be starved to death.” She was given leaflets that contained graphic images of supposed aborted fetuses and were informed that the centre provided financial “help” (read incentives) to anyone who kept their babies.