Access to abortion under attack (again)

A march in support of women’s access to abortion is taking place in London today.

This is in response to threats to abortion access put forward by Nadine Dorries MP and Frank Field MP.

They want to impose new counselling requirements on women seeking abortion, while simultaneously preventing abortion providers from offering pre-abortion counselling.

At present abortion providers are heavily regulated bodies whose advice, guidance and counselling provision is delivered to strict standards. However these proposals pave the way for anti-choice organisations such as LIFE and Care Confidential to become formally involved in advising women facing unplanned pregnancy.

These proposals put additional barriers in women’s way, adding to what is already likely to be a very difficult situation. And they may potentially expose women to misleading and deliberately anti-abortion messages right at the time when they most need accurate, reliable and unbiased support.

These proposals may not even be debated in parliament as it appears that the Department of Health is considering introducing these new counselling arrangements via regulatory change, rather than through legislation.

I’m really concerned about this chipping away at women’s access to safe, legal abortion. Abortion was only made legal in the UK in 1967 and is still only possible if two doctors certify that certain grounds are met. There are many safeguards and counselling is already freely available for those who wish to have it.

This change is aimed squarely at putting another hurdle in front of women, implying they can’t be trusted to make the right choice, and to give those who oppose abortion a role in their decision making.

I can’t be on the demo today but I support their actions and hope they can help show up this proposal for the thinly disguised anti-choice attack that it is.

More information on the campaign here and a good Guardian comment piece here.

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