Pregnancy Advisory Service

British Pregnancy Advisory Service

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) is a British non-profit organisation whose stated purpose is to "[support] reproductive choice by advocating and providing high quality, affordable services to prevent or end unwanted pregnancies with contraception or by abortion. BPAS was founded in 1968 (originally as the Birmingham Pregnancy Advisory Service), shortly after abortions were legalised in Britain. In addition to providing abortion services (50% of NHS-funded abortions through 150 agencies), BPAS also provides emergency contraception, vasectomy and sterilisation, and vasectomy reversal services, and is Britain's largest single abortion provider. Government funding (through the Department of Health) as of 2004 was £12 million.

In late 2004, the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph presented video evidence to the British government (Health Secretary Dr John Reid and Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Liam Donaldson) showing BPAS counsellors referring women whose pregnancies were too advanced for legal abortions in Britain (past 24 weeks) to a clinic, Ginemedex, in Barcelona, Spain, which was itself operating outside federal laws by providing late-term "social" abortions (a non-legal, politically loaded term sometimes used to describe non-medically-necessary abortions).

A report filed by the CMO Professor Sir Liam Donaldson in September, 2005 was critical of some aspects of BPAS counselling, but concluded that, in the matter of BPAS staff referring (in the broad sense, not the strict medical definition) women with late-term pregnancies to the Ginemedex clinic, BPAS had not broken any laws. The report suggested that, in the cases where late-term pregnant women approached BPAS, their employees were so quick to suggest the Spanish clinic that they were neglecting the women's medical and other needs. The report stated unequivocally that BPAS's ability to provide abortion and reproductive counselling and services (within its mandate) had not in any way been compromised, and that no changes in funding should result. It further stated however, that protocol for late-term abortion counselling was sorely lacking, and that the government and interested agencies must develop said protocol with all possible speed.

Ann Furedi, BPAS's current CEO, said in November 2004 that access to abortions performed between 20-24 weeks needs to be improved. She said BPAS carries out 80% of the UK's post-20 week abortions, but due to being unable to meet the demand they often send women seeking such terminations to other countries.

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