British Pro-Lifers Claim Video Proof Of Clinic Improprieties

By Mike Wendling | July 7, 2008 | 8:11 PM EDT

London ( - A British pro-life group claimed Wednesday that some U.K. pregnancy advice clinics have been giving out poor or misleading information about abortion and that videotaped evidence proves the allegations.

The U.K. Life League has been sending its female supporters into clinics with hidden video cameras. The women ask for abortion advice and secretly film the clinic staff.

Life League national co-ordinator Jim Dowson said the group had uncovered evidence of poor advice and would be consulting lawyers to see if prosecutions could be made against clinics and their employees.

"The advice they are giving is outrageous and negligent," Dowson said. "They are not advising women of the risks and they are not explaining the basic biology of an abortion. They are saying nothing of the health and emotional risks that an abortion entails.

"They don't talk about the fetus or the baby, they talk about 'removing the contents of the womb' or 'removing the pregnancy,'" he said.

Dowson said his group would soon be in touch with American organizations that specialize in training lawyers for anti-abortion causes.

"We've had no official contacts yet but we will definitely being exploring this," he said.

The group's main project, however, will be a freely distributed videotape showing the footage. The tape will be distributed through the group's website and through advertisements in religious newspapers.

"These practices have filled the coffers of the big abortion business and some of the most profitable charities in Britain," Dowson said. "They are exploiting mostly young, working class women."

He said the group was wary of the legal implications of the covert filming, but said the Life League had been targeted by the authorities in the past and would not be deterred.

Dowson would not name the clinics the group has targeted nor say how many the group had infiltrated, but the Scottish Sunday Herald newspaper reported over the weekend that the group had gone into at least eight facilities around Britain.

Clinic reaction

Ian Jones of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) said Wednesday that his organization wasn't concerned about the Life League's operations.

"We're confident that our advice and services are appropriate and accurate," he said.

Dowson wouldn't say whether BPAS clinics were among those filmed, but BPAS is listed in on the Life League's "hall of shame" webpage.

Jones called the secret filming "disgraceful" and said it was consistent with the Life League's approach to other issues.

"They use every tactic in the book to get attention, but their fringe attitudes and methods don't reflect society," he said.

Britain's Family Planning Association (FPA), which campaigns in support of abortion and other services but does not actually operate clinics, expressed skepticism about some of the Life League's claims.

FPA spokeswoman Juliet Hillier called the Life League an "enormously under-supported militant group" and hinted that the alleged videotapes might actually contain scant evidence of anything improper.

"They are not a particularly threatening organization," Hillier said. "They enjoy talking to the media but have little enthusiasm when it comes to actually doing something.

"We are quite happy to engage in debate and we wouldn't want to close people down if they have a valid viewpoint," she said. "(But) they don't really have anything to contribute."

The use of hidden video cameras isn't first time the Life League has clashed with pregnancy clinics.

Last year, the head of a Scottish pregnancy clinic mounted a successful legal challenge to get her name removed from the group's "hall of shame."

Hawys Kilday, head of the Brook Advisory Service in Edinburgh, later found her name on the controversial U.S. site Nuremberg Files, which collects information on abortion practitioners.

The Life League denied it had anything to do with Kilday's appearance on the site, however.

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