Since Lisa wrote a blog about Nadine Dorries and Frank Field’s ‘Right to Know’ campaign and their proposed amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill we’ve seen the issue discussed by a number of journalists and bloggers. In light of that, today’s Myth Busting Monday focuses on one particular aspect of this campaign which we believe could pose a real threat to women’s access to impartial support with pregnancy decision-making, and that is the presence of unregulated pregnancy advice centres.
The Right to Know site claims that:
An amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill would guarantee that all women considering abortion have access to independent advice and counselling - provided by someone with no vested financial interest in the outcome of their decision.
Our question is – just who would be providing this service? What is the alternative for a woman who doesn’t speak to her doctor or a counsellor at an abortion provider?
Crisis Pregnancy Centres (CPCs)
There are already a number of independent pregnancy advice centres across the country. Some are upfront about operating with a specifically anti-abortion agenda, some aren’t. Some are transparent about religious affiliations or funding organisations, some aren’t. Some may be providing evidence-based information and impartial support to women facing an unplanned pregnancy but we know of many more which aren’t. Our own research, coupled with the insight of the many professionals we speak to across the UK suggests that a good number of these centres are not offering women a balanced discussion of their pregnancy options but rather serving misinformation, health myths, overblown statistics and, in some cases showing women anti-abortion videos. This Channel 5 news report gives an idea of the kind of misleading information which may be given by a CPC.
Our concern is that suggestions that women need to look for independent pregnancy advice could open up the capacity of centres which offer biased information, driven by an agenda. Perhaps not the ‘financial incentive’ Dorries accuses abortion providers of, but an agenda nevertheless.