Government plans on abortion advice risk anti-abortion groups replacing pro-choice providers

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The Department of Health (DH) has announced it is drawing up plans to remove funding from abortion providers for giving pre-abortion counselling, and instead will offer the funds to organisations that do not provide abortions. The British Humanist Association (BHA) is extremely concerned that the changes will lead to anti-choice groups acquiring inappropriate and totally disproportionate state financial support, and using their role to present false and misleading information to women, thereby damaging the quality of counselling provided.

The proposals being made closely mirror amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill tabled by Nadine Dorries MP that would ban abortion providers from giving pre-abortion counselling, instead requiring such counselling to come from other ‘independent’ groups. No groups are named, but it is expected that organisations opposed to abortion such as Life, who earlier this year were invited by the DH to join their Sexual Health Forum, and Care Confidential will seek to fill the role. An undercover investigation carried out by Education for Choice earlier this month found services by such groups ‘wanting’, with ‘evidence of poor practice and factually incorrect advice’. The amendments are due to be debated on 6th or 7th September.

BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘Abortion providers are non-profit organisations with no financial interest in increasing the number of abortions carried out, and ‘pro-choice’ means just that – such organisations do not look to push women into having abortions but are genuinely interested in presenting women with the facts to allow them to decide for themselves whether to have an abortion or not. The assumptions that lie behind the present criticism of them by anti-choice campaigners are disgusting.

‘On the other hand, many anti-choice groups are driven by their mainly religious underpinnings to oppose abortions in all circumstances, even in cases such as those arising from rape, or those in which a woman’s life is put seriously at risk if she continues the pregnancy. Anti-choice groups have become increasingly sophisticated in presenting themselves as balanced providers of information on abortion, but evidence suggests that they often provide misleading or even false information.

‘Women at a vulnerable time deserve better than to be put in the hands of anti-choice groups motivated more by ideology than concern for their clients’ health and freedom.’

Notes

For further comment or information, please contact Andrew Copson on 020 7079 3583.

Read the Health and Social Care Bill amendments tabled by Nadine Dorries.

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on abortion.

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.