Friday, 26 August 2011

Oppose BPAS abortion facility in Stratford

Daniel Blackman, a youth officer and researcher at SPUC, has given me the following report on a pro-life outreach in Stratford last weekend. It involved young supporters of the Society as well as young pro-life colleagues from other pro-life groups.

Daniel writes: Following the success and hard work of the 11 young members of the SPUC team and friends who initiated and ran the Lewisham Peoples Day event in July which you can read about here and here, they have been out again in London, this time in Stratford, and for a very good reason.

The Borough of Newham has the sixth highest number of abortions in the entire country. In 2010 there were 2,341 abortions recorded for residents of Newham Borough. This is higher than many of the larger cities in the UK.

Newham is a very dangerous place for unborn children and their mothers these days.

With these sorry statistics in mind, it was of great concern to younger members of SPUC to learn that the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), England’s largest private abortion provider, has just opened its newest abortuary right in the heart of Stratford, a major town in Newham Borough.

How on earth is a large abortion centre in the heart of a borough that already has one of the worst abortion problems in the country going to help the local people? How, for example, is BPAS setting up shop going to help cut the tragic abortion rate?

The team L-R: Paul, Frances, Shirleyann, Siobhan, Jo, Danny, Anna, Chris. Not pictured: Daniel and Delia 

Last Saturday, SPUC launched a pro-life community outreach project in Stratford. In a very short space of time a team of 10 pro-life leaders were gathered together: five young adults from SPUC, two women involved in pro-life activities, and three members from the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants.

We had an eye-catching display with child development posters and the SPUC How You Began foetal model set. We also brought hundreds of good quality pro-life materials to give away for free, including SPUC’s Abortion: Your Right to Know leaflet, Good Counsel Network's pregnancy leaflets and 40 Days for Life You can Stop Injustice magazines.

The day began at 10.30am and ended at 2pm. Our team spent the whole time engaging with members of the public. We spoke to nurses, medical students, mums and grannies, teens and young couples. We noticed that the people of Stratford were interested in what we had to say and offer, many of them expressing strong support for pro-life work, and shock that BPAS has chosen to set up shop in their community. It is pertinent to note that not a single person to whom we spoke was aware that an abortion centre had been set up right where they live. The day was a success with twenty-two people signed up to receive more information and learn about what they could do to tackle the problem of abortion in their area.

As with any planning application, there needs to be a certain amount of public consultation. From our research it appears that the BPAS planning application, which was open to public comment on the Newham Borough planning applications website, did not receive a single comment.

From the same website we found that 47 letters were sent to adjoining occupiers of the BPAS centre (it is a large residential building, with BPAS occupying the ground floor, and two levels of residential flats above). However, none of the letters sent out were registered as having been received, and no replies were received from the adjoining occupiers. Moreover, the letter does not make clear that the proposed clinic to be opened was in fact an abortion facility.

There is virtually no public awareness about what has happened in their area. The public consultation period seems to have gone completely unnoticed by everyone, and with minimal effort put into letting local people know about something that every resident should have known about. People have strong stances on abortion. Planning permission for a facility that kills unborn children is not the same as seeking permission to build a wall or extend the driveway.

In summary:
  • None of the forty-seven letters sent to adjoining occupiers were registered as having been received. This is stated on the Newham Borough Physical Regeneration website.
  • From the Newham planning applications website, there were no comments from the general public at all. BPAS has so far been completely unopposed. 
  • Possibly one reason why no one responded is Newham Borough’s failure to make clear that the clinic to be opened is in fact an abortion facility.
  • According to the 2001 national census, Newham borough has the most ethnically diverse demographic, and the highest youth population. Women from ethnic minorities and young women are disproportionately affected by abortion. This makes the setting up of an abortion clinic in the area all the more questionable.
We still have time to raise public awareness, and to get the residents of Stratford and the surrounding area to write to the councillors and MP, raise their voice in opposition, stating that Stratford and the Borough of Newham do not want abortionists in their area.

Contact Daniel Blackman at if you can help or call the SPUC team at (020) 7820 3140.

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