Thursday 19 July 2012

Lovewise in schools

Today, The Huffington Post’s lead article concerns the group Lovewise, a Christian organisation which delivers presentations on puberty, sex, relationships and abortion to young people in schools, colleges and churches. We are quoted in the article expressing concern that a group which gives misinformation on contraception and abortion, and presents information which may stigmatise same-sex relationships and single parent families, is invited into schools to speak to young people.

Lovewise, alongside other groups promoting an abstinence-only, anti-abortion position formed the new, Michael Gove approved, ‘SRE Council’ last year. We noted then our concerns about the misinformation which was being given on Lovewise’s website in their sample slides. Since then we have gathered more information on the group and found that they speak at a number of schools across the country – the names of the schools visited are publicly available via their annual accounts.

To be clear. Our concern is not that Lovewise are presenting a Christian perspective on abortion. Nor that they oppose legal abortion. We have written before about the difference between facts and values. What we object to is the use of misleading, biased and at times, outright false information, which is unsupported by scientific evidence. For example, slides from Lovewise’s abortion presentation (saved from the site on 13th July but mysteriously now no longer viewable) claim that abortion leads to infertility, doubles the risk of breast cancer and increases the risk of committing suicide seven-fold. These claims simply do not reflect scientific consensus on abortion.

Besides the disregard for truly evidence-based information, there is also the effect such presentations might have on children’s wellbeing. How will a young woman who has experienced pregnancy feel when she is told ‘there are always bad consequences’ to abortion? How might a group which claims ‘homosexual activity is damaging to the mind, body and spirit’ affect the feelings of a young person who is LGBT? And how might young people’s access to safe, confidential sexual health advice be affected by listening to an organisation which teaches that contraception is ‘something that is wrong and threatens health?’

Lovewise are by no means the only group to be proffering such myths but we are glad to see that the public’s attention is being drawn to the regular practice of abortion misinformation being spread in schools. Now, let’s see if we can continue to push for evidence-based, impartial materials to be used in every school teaching about an issue as important as abortion.

Sample slides from Lovewise's 'Abortion Version 2' presentation.

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