CARE tackles Government on broken abortion promise
A Christian social policy group is challenging the UK Government in its failure to uphold promises on abortion counselling issues.
Social policy charity CARE (Christian Action Research and Education) has today called on the Government to reverse the decision, announced this morning by Under Secretary of State for Health Anna Soubry, to break its promise to both hold a public consultation on independent abortion counselling and to introduce secondary legislation to uphold independent counselling.
In 2011 growing public concern was expressed about the financial conflict of interest at the heart of abortion provision; namely the fact that those providing the bulk of counselling to women who are considering an abortion have a vested financial and functional interest in abortion provision because they are funded by the state to do so.
CARE claims that a financial conflict of interest was clearly illustrated by comments such as the statement in the annual report of BPAS published in March 2011 that “an increase in procedures of 13 per cent against the background of falling national trends in 2010-2011” was a “significant achievement.” BPAS has further made it clear that one of their goals is to increase their “market share” in the provision of abortions.
Nola Leach CARE’s Head of Public Affairs said,
‘The current arrangements are completely untenable and present a clear conflict of interest that is entirely contrary to the most basic best practice principles of transparency. What is particularly troubling is that it is a problem entirely of the Government’s own making because it funds the abortion providers. It was entirely right, therefore, for the Government to promise to both consult on and introduce secondary legislation regarding, independent counselling.’
In stating that she had decided not to proceed with the consultation the minister, Anna Soubry MP, said that it was not necessary to have a consultation on abortion counselling as there would be no change in the law.
Dr Dan Boucher, CARE’s Director of Parliamentary Affairs, responded:
‘The minister seemed to feel that the suggestion that the Government would not change the law in some way let her off proceeding with the abortion counselling consultation. In truth, however, the Government’s promise was both to consult and to change the law, so her announcement simply amounts to two broken promises.’
Dr Boucher continued,
‘What is most striking is that the minister made no reference whatsoever to the actual issue that gave rise to the amendment to the Health and Social CARE Bill and which resulted in the commitment to consult and to introduce secondary legislation on independent counselling, namely the financial conflict of interest.’
‘Public faith in abortion provision is at all time low at present. Since the news of the financial conflict of interest concern broke we have also seen additional concerns arise about the illegal pre-signing of abortion forms and doctors being caught agreeing to abort on the basis of gender. To shut down the consultation commitment which was promised in response to concerns about financial conflict of interest is a monumental political misjudgement.’
Nola Leach has further claimed,
‘The Government made two very clear promises: to consult on independent counselling and to introduce secondary legislation on independent counselling. It cannot simply change its mind without breaking trust with the British public, something politicians (especially post the expenses scandal) absolutely should not do. For the sake of the Government’s own integrity Anna Soubry’s superiors must intervene and overrule her.’
According to a report in the Telegraph new figures suggest that abortion charities could be misleading the public by artificially inflating the proportion of clients who decide to keep their babies.
Freedom of Information requests revealed that only one in ten women who book consultations for counselling decide against having an abortion. This conflicts with the claims of Marie Stopes (15%) and BPAS (23%) of women who, after counselling, decide not to proceed.