Tuesday, September 6, 2011

UK proposals on abortion counselling fraught with danger

There are currently two proposals before Parliament to alter the current status of abortion counselling in the UK.  The First, known as the Dorries/Field amendment, which is a seriously flawed life protection measure with the potential of banning all pro-life counselling. The second is a pro-abortion alternative tabled by Conservative MP Louise Mench which raises even more serious concerns than the Dorries/Field amendment. 
The Mench proposal is scheduled to come before Parliament on Thursday.

SPUC have issued briefings on both as follows. The say on the Dorries/Field amendment
There is a great deal of confusion and controversy over the pregnancy counselling amendment to the health bill (Health and Social Care Bill) being proposed by Mrs Nadine Dorries and Rt Hon. Frank Field. From the very outset, SPUC has expressed serious reservations about the amendment (see Pro-Life Times, p.1), and recent reports have deepened our concerns. At the heart of the matter are two key issues: one is the question of what the Dorries/Field amendments are seeking to do (and it is not at all clear what they are seeking to do), and the other is the question of whether Nadine Dorries and Frank Field are pro-life.

At one level the aim of the amendments is simple – to require GPs to offer pregnant women considering abortion the chance to have “independent” information, advice and counselling. But what will this consist of? Will the three elements (information, advice, counselling) be provided together, or separately? Who will the counsellors be? Will the information include where to obtain an abortion? Will it include sources of help to continue with a pregnancy? While Nadine Dorries and Frank Field have presented their aim as stopping BPAS and other abortion organisations from offering pregnancy counselling, their amendment would not in fact stop doctors referring women to abortion clinics for counselling as long as doctors mention independent counsellors too.

The second issue of confusion is whether Nadine Dorries and Frank Field are pro-life – in the simple sense of wanting to save unborn lives. They are not making this very evident. Nadine Dorries repeatedly stresses in press interviews and on her internet blog that she is “pro-choice”. She supports the Abortion Act. She said she “would hate to see a return to the dark days of back-street operations.“ She has also said:
“I'll say it again, no organisation which is paid for carrying out abortions and no organisation that thinks it's appropriate to bring God into a counselling session with a vulnerable woman, should be allowed anywhere near the counselling room.”
Some people think that she is just being clever. If so, this is a dangerous and foolish tactic. With powerful and well-resourced opponents in the pro-abortion lobby, she is liable to be held to account for such statements. For his part, Frank Field has refused to meet pro-life groups to discuss the proposals.
With regard to the Louise Mench proposal the aim of which according to herself is,
"to satisfy pro-choice... To make sure every pro-choice objection in the Dorries/Field amendment are answered"
"Counselling would have to include abortion advice (how, when, medical) so many (Christians) might opt out."
If they cannot offer neutral advice on abortions the shouldn't be counsellors, by definition they must explore all options."

The SPUC analysis of the Mench proposal can be found on this link