British politician Lord David Alton, the country’s foremost pro-life Peer, is demanding an investigation into claims that aid money from the United Kingdom is being used to fund illegal abortions in Kenya and Niger.

“I am calling on the Government to undertake an urgent inquiry into allegations that Marie Stopes International is performing illegal abortions in Kenya and Niger”, Lord Alton said. “They need to determine as a matter of urgency whether Marie Stopes International is in fact promoting and performing abortions contrary to the law in Kenya and Niger.”

Lord Alton’s concerns are specifically around Marie Stopes International (MSI), which receives millions of pounds from UK taxpayers each year. He said, “Last week Marie Stopes International was issued with a cease and desist letter by the Kenyan Medical Board banning it from offering abortion services. This was further to the organisation being censured for an advertising campaign which appeared to offer abortion services outside the current law in Kenya”. Now, he added, “Niger’s Health Minister Idi Illiassou has announced ‘we have decided to close this charity on grounds of a 2006 law which bans abortions’.”

These recent moves within Africa have caused Lord Alton to call upon Britain’s current minority Conservative Government to review UK-funded abortion services via such groups as MSI in African countries.

“At the very least, it would seem that the Government is not running due diligence on the MSI services in Kenya and Niger”, Lord Alton said.

This call comes just weeks after Kenyan medical authorities banned abortion provider MSI from offering any form of abortion activity within Kenya.

In September 2018, MSI was instructed by Kenyan authorities to desist from promoting its services via Kenyan radio networks. Many judged its advertisements to be offensive, as well as appearing to undermine existing Kenyan law on abortion, which only permits abortion in the case of a threat to the life of the mother. Any form of advertising for abortion is illegal under Kenyan law and is also prohibited under local medical practitioner rules.

This advertising ban prompted a subsequent inquiry from Kenyan medical authorities. This resulted in a letter being sent on 14 November 2018 from the Kenyan Medical Practitioners Board to MSI stating that: “Marie Stopes Kenya is hereby directed to immediately cease and desist offering any form of abortion services in all its facilities within the republic.”

Marie Stopes International is one of the world’s biggest abortion providers with more than 12,000 employees in 37 countries. In its 2017 annual report, MSI revealed that its income was £296.1 million ($377 million USD). Approximately £157 million ($200 million USD) of this came via government funding and monies from other charitable bodies such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (£8.4 million/$10.7 million USD) and from the United Nations (£3.3 million/$4.2 million USD). However, the largest single financial contribution to MSI came from the UK government’s Department for International Development, credited with giving £44 million ($56 million USD).

The Department for International Development (DfID) 2017 budget was £14 billion ($17 billion USD), a figure derived from the UK government’s on going commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of the nation’s GDP on funding projects in the developing world. DfID has denied it was helping to pay for unlawful abortions in Kenya. Instead, it insisted the money was used only for abortions that were legally performed.

MSI has operated in Kenya since 1985, running 22 facilities and 15 so-called “mobile outreach” facilities.  For some time Lord Alton has had concerns about the way in which Western abortion providers have been operating in African countries.

“Earlier this year I raised my concerns about this with the Government,” he said. “I was told abortion services in Kenya would be carried out ‘within the parameters set out in the Kenyan Constitution’, which only allows for abortion if the mother’s health is in danger.”

Only last week, Niger ordered the closure of two centres run by MSI on grounds that it was illegally performing abortions. Like Kenya, Niger allows abortion only in cases where the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life. “Our inquiries have shown that this non-governmental organisation is enabling the voluntary interruption of pregnancy,” said Niger’s Health Minister Idi Illiassou. He added that his country’s agreement with MSI “does not authorise this.” He said that the latest move to close down MSI operations in Niger was “on grounds of a 2006 law which bans abortions.”

MSI has been operating in Niger since 2014.

In light of the recent developments in Kenya and Niger, Lord Alton has asked that any UK overseas aid money be directed to services that are not only legal but also seemingly more needed in African countries.

“Investment in quality maternal health services in Africa should be prioritised”, he said.  In this rush to fund abortion over services to expectant mothers, Lord Alton sees the imposition of a more sinister agenda. He pointed out that, “As Africans themselves have said, millions of pounds of UK funding going to abortion providers in Africa [which] equates to a kind of continuation of Western colonization of the African people.”

Date published: 06/12/2018
Written by: K.V. Turley
Feature image: Lord David Alton
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