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Abortion factsheet launched to challenge spread of ‘junk science’ in schools

The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) have today launched a factsheet on abortion and abortion care for schools, in order to challenge misinformation on the topic that is often propagated in schools. The factsheet follows on from Humanists UK and Brook exposing many anti-abortion groups spreading such misinformation. The two groups wrote to the RCOG and asked them to produce such guidance, and Humanists UK is delighted to see that this recommendation has finally been taken up. 

In 2012, Humanists UK and Education for Choice (EfC), which has since become a part of Brook, uncovered the anti-abortion groups SPUC, Lovewise, and LIFE propagating misinformation about abortion in schools. Humanists UK and EfC demanded action about it at the time, but since then the groups have continued to visit schools unimpeded. For instance, press coverage today highlights that speakers from Lovewise are visiting schools across England telling young people that the risks of abortion include breast cancer, infertility, depression, and suicide, and have even compared doctors who carry out the procedure to Nazis.

The new guidance from the FRSH and RCOG has the support of Public Health England and is intended to counteract untruths about the subject by providing scientifically accurate information.

According to draft UK Government guidance, from 2020, lessons on the subject of abortion taking place as part of new statutory Relationships and Sex Education in English schools ought only to include ‘medically and legally accurate, impartial information’.

Commenting on the new guide, Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Ruth Wareham said: ‘We’re very pleased that the RCOG and FRSH have responded to our call for guidance from them on abortion in schools, and strongly urge all schools to adopt an evidence-based approach to teaching about abortion that is free from religious dogma.

‘We are alarmed that, despite the passing of nearly seven years since Humanists UK first raised concerns about anti-choice groups like Lovewise spreading misinformation, young people are still being subjected to deeply problematic messages about abortion in schools.

‘Schools have a responsibility to ensure their pupils are aware of the facts on these issues, and the new guide goes some way towards ensuring that this is the case. However, in line with provision in its own new statutory guidance on Relationships and Sex Education, the UK Government must act to prevent speakers who are determined to make harmful, unscientific claims about abortion from visiting schools.’

Notes

For more information contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at casey@humanism.org.uk or 07 3933 44293.

Read the new guidance: https://www.fsrh.org/fsrh-rcog-abortion-care-factsheet-rse/

Read our expose of Lovewise materials from 2012:

https://humanism.org.uk/2012/07/20/news-1083/

Read the Government’s draft guidance and consultation document: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/relationships-and-sex-education-and-health-education

Read Humanists UK’s response: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018-11-06-RW-CONSULTATION_-Relationships-education-relationships-and-sex-education-and-health-education.pdf

Read more about our work on relationships and sex education: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/school-curriculum/pshe-and-sex-and-relationships-education/

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

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