Abortion rules changes allow dangerously biased counselling

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 saysThere 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.
I have written before on the subject of abortion, and I have said that I don’t like it. However, it is not my place to determine what a woman does, and whether or not she must have an unwanted baby, and neither is it the place of the government or of religious activists. This effort to reduce abortion seems to be part of a larger effort by right-wing Christians to impose their morals on a country that is largely not Christian. It goes hand-in-hand with the Tory desire to force women to stay married and to keep women in the home and raising children. It seems fairly clear that this whole change brought forward by Dorries and Field is an effort to impose their desire for less abortions on the general public, not to allow more choice, and they have no evidence of any kind on which to base their desire to change things.

Relevant links

The Telegraph: Abortion rules to be tightened in biggest shake-up for a generation

The Guardian: Ministers back anti-abortion lobby reforms


Author: Latentexistence

The world is broken and I can't fix it because I am broken. I can, however, rant about it all and this is where I do that when I can get my thoughts together. Most of the time you'll find my words on Twitter rather than here though. I sometimes write for Where's The Benefit too.

One thought on “Abortion rules changes allow dangerously biased counselling”

  1. There was a good interview/debate on R4 yesterday. The conclusion seemed to be that the existing counselling probably wasn’t biassed (though in principle, as you point out, it’s wrong for the person providing the service to also provide the advice), but that under the proposed changes counselling would still _not_ be compulsory, and the independent counselling providers would not be allowed to be religious – they would have to be trained & qualified counsellors like now (hopefully!) – but not paid by the clinic.

    The question of free choice is one thing, but given that exists, I don’t see the general issue with an aim to reduce the number of abortions carried out in the UK. I accept you have issues with Dorries and Christianity, but it’s official government policy to allow people to smoke, while encouraging and helping them not too. It seems entirely compatible with free choice to allow women to have abortions, while encouraging and help them and their partners not to conceive in the first place.

    Are you seriously suggesting that a condom and an abortion are medically equivalent and that the government has no business pushing people towards the former rather than the latter?

    ” It goes hand-in-hand with the Tory desire to force women to stay married and to keep women in the home and raising children.” Is that their policy? As far as I’m aware, the child tax credit scheme still pays _both_ parents to go back to work and leave their children with carers. I’d be strongly attracted to any party that financially helped one parent to stay at home at look after their own child(ren) until they went to school, but that’s not on the agenda because AFAICT governments want both parents in work paying taxes.

    I’m also a big fan of marriage (for life), stable families, etc though I’d rather the government left well alone, as long as it doesn’t make things difficult for families. I don’t think of myself as a conservative, but I’m a fan of an evidenced based approach to things, and that includes bringing up children.

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