In response to the new Public Health White Paper, ‘Healthy Lives, Healthy People’, a hardline anti-abortion group has said it will target pregnant women who are considering terminations by ‘intensifying’ its distribution of anti-abortion literature to GPs. By contrast, the British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed this aspect of the White Paper, describing its commitment to guarantee access to sexual health and family planning services as ‘vital’, and has criticized the renewed anti-choice campaign by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC).
The White Paper states:
‘We will work towards an integrated model of service delivery to allow easy access to confidential, non-judgemental sexual health services (including sexually transmitted infections, contraception, abortion, health promotion and prevention)’ para. 3.43.
In a press statement SPUC said: ‘In recent months SPUC has been sending information to GPs, briefing them about the reality and dangers of abortion, so they can in turn inform their patients who are pregnant and who may be considering abortion. SPUC will now intensify that campaign in the light of the government’s proposal.’
The announcement comes less than a week after the Times Educational Supplement (TES) reported that SPUC has significantly expanded its schools programme in recent months. The investigation revealed that SPUC’s classroom presentations contained graphic images and false information about the effects of abortion.
Other religious groups have also been critical of the White Paper. The Catholic Education Service of England and Wales (CESEW) has said it will ‘be seeking firm reassurances from the Government that their intention to increase young people’s access to ‘health services’ will not place an expectation on Catholic schools to promote abortion or other activities that would be contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church.’
BHA Head of Public Affairs Naomi Phillips commented: ‘It is vital that women with unwanted pregnancies have timely access to accurate, objective information about all their options and can access free, safe and legal abortions if that is their choice. It is also vital that people can access health services easily and without fear of criticism or comments about their lifestyles. The commitment by government to ensure access to non-judgemental sexual health and family planning services, including abortion, is a step in the right direction and we welcome these provisions.’
‘Unfortunately, it is no surprise that anti-choice lobbyists will be trying their hardest to oppose these sensible and crucial measures. The campaign of misinformation and propaganda is likely to be stepped up and it is more important than ever for those who support objective education and women’s autonomy – religious and non-religious – to make their voices heard.
For further comment or information, contact Naomi Phillips on 07540 257101.
The BHA is committed to encouraging informed and responsible choice. Therefore, we believe that all children are entitled to full and accurate SRE, including unbiased information on contraception, STIs, abortion, sexual orientation, and the many forms of family relationship conducive to individual fulfilment and the stability of society.
The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing and supporting the non-religious and campaigning for an end to religious privilege and discrimination based on religion or belief. The BHA contributes to debate on a wide range of ethical issues from stem cell research to sex education. The BHA is a member of the National Children’s Bureau Sex Education Forum (SEF) and the Children’s Rights Alliance for England.