I wholeheartedly agree that ultimately it is the woman’s right to choose whether to terminate her pregnancy and whether to seek counselling beforehand. However, there is disturbing evidence of biased pre-abortion counselling advice (from both camps) – see this undercover story. Do read it.
The Dorries/Field amendments to the Health & Social Care Bill do not propose compulsory pre-abortion counselling, but seek to remove any counselling role from organisations who currently provide a time-saving “one-stop shop” service – from advice to medical assessment to abortion procedure. Human nature being what it is, people seek the path of least resistance and a “one-stop shop” is often the easiest path to take.
These organisations have a financial interest as they are paid per abortion. People say they are charities or “not for profit” organisations so they are not profit-driven. However it cannot have escaped anybody’s notice that organisations like BPAS & Marie Stopes are run like businesses with marketing departments, large budgets and they have hundreds of jobs, from the well-paid CEO downwards, which depend primarily on the income stream from abortions. The same can be said for some of the large pro-life groups which offer pre-abortion counselling.
Worryingly, the Dorries/Field amendments do not stipulate that the counselling should be *impartial*. Indeed there will be no restrictions on who can provide the service – indeed any pro-life, pro-choice or neutral groups can do so – as long as they do not perform abortions and are able to meet guidelines (currently set by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, but may change to NICE under the amendments)
Will this create a messy “free for all” market? Will it become even more confusing and stressful for women who are already under tremendous emotional strain? It is probable.
So how can we try to ensure that if a woman does want counselling, she has expedited access to an independent service which is impartial, free, expedient, supportive & readily available?
Why not offer such a service (within RCOG guidelines) on, or paid for by the NHS, staffed by public & private sector counsellors who are full & appropriately qualified members of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), who have no interest in whether a woman has the abortion eventually and whose sole aim is to help the woman by giving support and counselling.
Just a thought.
PS. I am not in either the pro-life or pro-choice camp, I am a man so I don’t presume to know what a woman feels or thinks, least of all second guess what is best for her. Mine is only a suggestion for an alternative, or an addition to what is available.