August 31 | comments icon 2 COMMENTS     print icon print

22-JOHN-SMEATON

Abortion report ‘dangerously misleading’

SPUC director says Government backed independent counselling is not a pro-life service

The director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has called reports that the Government is set to tighten up abortion laws ‘dangerously misleading.’

Reports in a Sunday newspaper suggest that the Department of Health is to announce plans for a new system of independent counselling for women before they finally commit to terminating a pregnancy. A move designed to give women more ‘breathing space.’

The plan would introduce a mandatory obligation on abortion clinics to offer women access to independent counselling, to be run on separate premises by a group which does not itself carry out abortions.

Misleading

John Smeaton, SPUC director (above), said, however, that the report’s claim that ‘pro-life campaigners suggest the change could result in up to 60,000 fewer abortions each year in Britain’ is ‘dangerously misleading.’

“Worries that abortion agencies are offering no counselling, or biased guidance, to pregnant women, have led MPs to propose that women should be offered independent counselling,” Mr Smeaton said. “Frank Field MP and Nadine Dorries MP have suggested that any woman who has an unplanned pregnancy should get an offer of seeing an independent counsellor.”

He added that this is a suggestion now being taken up by the Department of Health, who are drafting proposals to be published in the form of a consultation.

Mr Smeaton went on, however, to refer to comments made by Paul Tully, SPUC’s general secretary, who said that ‘handing the drafting of proposals relating to abortion to the Department of Health is like putting the fox in charge of the chicken-coop.’

“The Department of Health commissions the vast majority of abortions in Britain, and says doctors should provide abortion on demand,” Mr Tully said. “Successive governments have regarded abortion as an answer to unmarried teenagers and other vulnerable women who get pregnant.

“Since 2004, most NHS abortions have been transferred to private clinics, and the health department now funds more than nine out of 10 abortions at these clinics. If the department now want counsellors to help pregnant women avoid abortions, it would represent a major change of heart. We remain very wary of the proposals and the department’s involvement.”

Counselling

Mr Tully added that ‘pro-life counselling can save many lives but independent counselling is not the same thing.’

“It all depends on the approach of the counsellor and the information provided,” he said.

As well as exercising caution on the recent reports, Mr Smeaton asked pro-life supporters to consider writing to their MPs, ‘urging him or her to tell the Government that in any proposal put forward: No counsellor should be required to be a conduit to abortion services; and counsellors who refuse on grounds of conscience or other good grounds to refer women to abortion services are not prevented from operating as pregnancy counsellors.’

Comments - 2 Responses

  1. christine keeley says:

    iN MY MIND THIS COULD NOT HAPPEN – THERE ARE LAWS (DISCRIMINATION ACT 2003 – RELIGIOUS BELIEFS) TO PROTECT ANYONE FROM EITHER BEING DISCOUNTED FROM EMPLOYMENT, OR FROM REFUSING TO ACT AGAINST THEIR RELIGIOUS ETHICS – MANY DOCTORS WILL NOT REFER TO ABORTION CLINICS FOR THE SAME REASON AND THIS IS THEIR RIGHT. IF THE GOVERNMENT GET THIS WRONG – THERE ARE MANY OF US PREPARED TO FIGHT ON UNTIL IT IS RIGHT

  2. Maritrez says:

    ‘urging him or her to tell the Government that in any proposal put forward: No counsellor should be required to be a conduit to abortion services; and counsellors who refuse on grounds of conscience or other good grounds to refer women to abortion services are not prevented from operating as pregnancy counsellors.’

    These are an important qualification.
    I know of one woman locally who was denied training as a pregnancy counsellor because, being a Catholic,and thus unable to associate herself with abortion in any shape or form, she asked that should her client opt for abortion, could that client be referred to another counsellor. She was told, No- she must see the same client through to the end.
    This policy means Catholic citizens – or any other citizen with medical or moral concerns over abortion – are excluded from such training.

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