Monday, August 15, 2011

Abortion Amendments to the Health & Social Care Bill

The entire bill has been wrapped in controversy and is expected to reach the Report Stage in the House of Commons on the 6th of September.

Nadine Dorries MP has sponsored 3 amendments. These say that a women who is looking to have a termination must be counselled independently by an organisation that either does not provide abortions or is a statutory body, stripping abortion providers of the ability to give advice.

She wrote in the Guardian in July: "At present, the only place a woman can receive pre- or post-abortion counselling paid for by the state is from an abortion provider – who has a clear financial interest in the ultimate decision the woman makes. Often women have to return to the abortion clinic where the procedure took place to receive their distress counselling. What caring person can believe that to be right?".

For "abortion provider" list the NHS for one, and "return to the abortion clinic" read NHS hospital, where many terminations take place.

As "an abortion provider" the NHS, as a statutory body, would be allowed to continue to give advice, carry out terminations and give post-abortion advice - but they do so for many institutions who have got the time and specialist counsellors to help women.

But even those will a financial interest, such as BPAS, give independent advice and do research into family planning - but if a woman decides to go through with a termination, they overwhelmingly do not charge: They have no financial incentive to encourage terminations but will be banned from giving out advice. BPAS state on their website that "Over 93% of the women we see don’t have to pay for their treatment as it's funded by the NHS". Either the NHS pay directly or indirectly. If clinics can't be counsellors then it will fall to the NHS - a strain that could overwhelm departments - any other solution would cost millions we can't afford.

Google "abortion advice uk" and you'll see a list of counsellors, which give women information on all the options on their websites and through advice lines - none of which charge for the information.

The vast majority of unwanted pregnancies are classed as "lifestyle" abortions. Around 90% of terminations take place before 13 weeks and 80% before 8 weeks. These amendments would lengthen that time and would force women to go through yet another hoop, which only increases anxiety. Delaying abortions can lead to infertility and psychological problems - so why heap more pressure on a woman if she feels she's done all her research and considered all the options?

You still need two doctors to authorise a termination. Both of them weigh up the patient's decision and will only sign if they believe that she has come to the decision independently and has considered all other choices - they would be negligent if they didn't.

Instead of making abortion physically and mentally harder for women in the UK, we should be looking at prevention and education - and by this I do not mean we need to teach graphic details to 13 year olds and give lessons with condoms and bananas. Parents need to take a bigger part in the education of their children and talking about sex appropriately when they're young is the best way to de-stigmatise it.

The fact is that the health and welfare of women would be affected in a bill that doesn't mention termination once in its 420 pages.

I urge every MP, woman or man, on whatever bench, to allow women to choose for themselves. I urge every constituent to contact your MP to get your voice heard.

VOTE AGAINST the 3 amendments and do not allow the government to introduce any other comparable legislation.

UPDATE 29-Aug-2011: The subject has been discussed in both The Telegraph and the Mail - with a quote from the above being included.


Jennie Kermode said...

It's good to see Conservative voices raised against this.

One of the biggest problems I can see with this piece of legislation is that it could interfere with other legal requirements on doctors carrying out abortions. That is, if an abortion provider is not able to advise a prospective patient about the nature of the procedure before it goes ahead, they cannot obtain clear informed consent.

Either this proposed legislation has been poorly thought through and is in urgent need of amendment (to the point where there would seem little reason to retain it at all), or it is intended to provide a tool for severely restricting the availability of abortion, something which 76% of people in this country oppose. I urge MPs to approach it with caution.

Sally Roberts said...

It seems to me that there is far too much emotional blackmail by the supporters of BOTH sides of the debate!
This is an incredibly difficult and senstive issue and one on which I have changed my views over the years. I was once a passionate "pro-lifer" - opposed to abortion in all circumstances. As I became older - and wiser - I realised that decisions are never clear-cut. No one should undergo a termination lightly - it is the saddest of all sad decisions to have to make. I strongly believe that women should have the choice and be in charge of their own bodies and their own fertility. Too many on the "pro-life" side are those who would seemingly "punish" women who are "too" sexual and not willing to fit into the prescribed mould of "Good Wife and Mother".