UK MPs seek to ‘tighten’ abortion restrictions; pro-lifers skeptical
LONDON, April 5, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A group of MPs have launched a parliamentary bid to “tighten” abortion restrictions and require women to undergo “counselling” before having abortions. The move, however, has been met with strong skepticism by the country’s leading pro-life political lobbying organization, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), who said that such efforts have backfired badly in the past.
Late last month, Labour MP Frank Field, a former Minister for Welfare, and Conservative MP Nadine Dorries presented two amendments to the Health and Social Care bill that would require women to be offered counseling from a service independent of the abortion facility.
Anthony Ozimic, SPUC communications director, told LifeSiteNews.com, “The amendments are weak and ethically problematic. Although they seek to rectify deplorable facets of the British abortion industry, they are simply not adequate to do so.”
The MPs sponsoring these amendments, he added, Nadine Dorries and Frank Field, “are not anti-abortion themselves.”
“Such campaigns may give these MPs a profile in the tabloid press, but they won’t help protect unborn children from abortion,” he said.
Nadine Dorries, who has been labelled in the media as “pro-life,” describes herself as “pro-woman” and is on record as supporting legal abortion and even of liberalizing restrictions on earlier abortions. Frank Field last week tabled a motion backing free provision of morning-after pills in pharmacies.
In presenting her amendments, Dorries argues that women are not being given adequate information because abortionists have a vested interest in the woman going through with abortion.
She said, “Women are treated like they are unable to emotionally deal with the information surrounding abortion. Vital information is withheld from them. They are not told that they are 30 per cent more likely to suffer from a mental health issue if they have an abortion, in case they change their minds.”
She wants to see women receive a referral for counselling from their local GPs, not from organizations like international abortion giant Marie Stopes, which carries out the majority of abortions in Britain.
The effort is reportedly backed by dozens of MPs and the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has indicated that he supports lowering the time limit for legal terminations.
Pro-life campaigners, however, have repeatedly warned that the last time more restrictions were attempted, the concession was gained at the expense of protections for unborn disabled people. In 1990 when the 1967 Abortion Act was amended to lower the gestational age limit for abortion from 28 to 24 weeks, political support was only obtained by allowing children diagnosed with possible disabilities to be legally killed in utero up to the time of full gestation.
Ozimic said that contrary to media reports, the first of the two proposed amendments doesn’t actually make independent counselling services mandatory for receiving an abortion. Instead the Secretary of State for Health and groups of GPs will decide to what extent such services will be offered.
Among the agencies that would be allowed to provide counselling under the provision are such groups as Brook, a pro-abortion “family planning” organisation.
Dorries’ second proposed amendment would transfer responsibility for drawing up the clinical guidelines on abortions from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) to the notoriously anti-life National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). The MPs say that the RCOG is biased in favor of abortion, but pro-life campaigners who have fought the battle for human life on more that one front cite the strong pro-euthanasia bias of the NICE as a warning red flag.
Ozimic warned against allowing the NICE to decide abortion practice guidelines. “The NICE has a record of appointing anti-life experts to deal with abortion-related issues,” he said.