New counselling legislation for women considering abortion

New counselling legislation for women considering abortion

By Charlotte Fantelli

Government to announce new plans for independent pre-abortion counselling, the Department of Health look set to announce new plans for independent abortion counselling. This comes ahead of a commons vote expected next week. 

With around 200,000 abortions taking place in the UK every year, a shocking recent study shows counselling and information provided by the NHS to be 'grossly inadequate' with fewer than 14% of women who had been through an abortion saying that they 'had received adequate pre-abortion counselling or information on alternatives or the physical and emotional risks'.

So it is beyond any doubt in my mind that access to proper unbiased (neither pro-life nor pro-abortion) counselling quickly and routinely is a must for anyone in an unplanned pregnancy. Whatever your view on abortion (and we know when this subject is raised the 'anti' and 'pro' hats get donned), SURELY 86% of women who have had an abortion cannot be wrong and things need to change.

Until now private organisations including the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), and Marie Stopes, who between them racked up around £60million last year to provide 100,000 abortions, have been providing 'pregnancy crisis counselling'. As these organisations are businesses whose sole interest is in abortion this service has now been highlighted as 'biased'.

This new proposal would see independent counselling being provided by groups who have no interest in the patient's ultimate decision. Having personally experienced, and having worked on features about abortion and the post-trauma psychological implications, I am personally relieved the inadequacies of the current system are being brought to light.

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph a spokesman for the Department of Health said: "These proposals are focused on improving women's health and wellbeing".

Whilst this bill is seen more as an 'anti-abortion' stance, with religious campaigners saying this bill could reduce the number of terminations by up to 60,000 per year in Britain, I hope that even 'Pro-choice' campaigners can agree that a woman should be entitled to unbiased fact, allowed to make an informed choice and have access to proper counselling provided by neither religious groups NOR clinics with a vested business interest in abortion.

Speaking to Sky news Mrs Dorries, the conservative back bencher who put forward this bill, said "I don't think abortion clinics or relgious groups should be part of this process."

She concluded "No-one who has interest in a woman's ultimate decision should be allowed anywhere near her,"  

I am sure we all agree that if a termination is going to go ahead at the informed will of the mother, then it should be done in as short a time period as possible to ensure her safety both physically and psychologically. I hope very much that the kind of counselling proposed does not delay the process for those who do ultimately commit to abortion, but does, instead, give a neutral forum for real and informed choice, so that whatever a woman's final decision she has had the opportunity to really understand her options and made an informed decision. This is the only way to reduce the mental health implications of this life changing procedure.

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