Nadine Dorries and Frank Field contend that the existing organisations that offer pre-abortion counselling – Marie Stopes and BPAS – must give biased and flawed counselling because they are only paid if they carry out an abortion. One blogger says “There is an evident bias because companies like BPAS and Marie Stopes are profit-making businesses and have a vested interest in procuring abortion: when women are dissuaded, it hits the profit margin.”
I have used the same argument myself against private companies hired by the DWP to carry out disability assessments so I can sort of see their point. Dorries’ solution is to change the law so that counselling cannot be given by an abortion provider. It seems reasonable to me, on the face of it, however there are problems with this approach.
- It isn’t actually compulsory for a woman to undergo counselling prior to an abortion at all, and many argue that to make it compulsory is inherently sexist, and to do so is to to assume that a woman is not in control of her own mind and emotions.
- Having to go to a different provider places an extra step in the way of women who want abortions. That step alone may dissuade some from an abortion. This seems to be Dorries’ intention.
- Dorries is framing this as giving women more choice and more information. However, Dorries herself simply wants to reduce abortions which is actually less choice. Her previous attempts to get the deadline for abortions reduced from 24 to 20 weeks with no basis in evidence of any kind proves this.
- These proposals are on track to be implemented as a regulatory change without being subjected to a parliamentary vote. Dorries and Field have been in discussion with Andrew Lansley to implement the change. This is not democracy.
- Outside organisations that offer counselling for pregnant women are largely Christian or otherwise religious in nature. Religious counselling is not wanted by most people who are not religious themselves.
- Current organisations offering counselling have been found to offer information that is heavily biased and even plain wrong, in order to scare women away from having an abortion.