Britain Considering Pre-Abortion Counseling, Could Cut Abortions

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 29, 2011   |   5:25PM   |   London, England

Members of the British Parliament are looking at a plan to require that all women in England considering an abortion undergo pre-abortion counseling — a move they say could stop as many as 60,000 abortions annually.

Abortion counseling is currently only offered by abortion businesses, which have a financial incentive to ensure they do not talk women out of having an abortion by emphasizing the numerous alternatives available to them or offering any non-abortion pregnancy assistance. However, the proposed legal changes would have abortion businesses following laws similar to those in the United States that require them to mention other options. Such laws have proven to reduce abortions.

Tory MP Nadine Dorries will file the amendment to the Health Bill later this week that would put the abortion counseling rules in place.

“Abortion has become a factory-efficient process that denies women the right to independent, professional counseling,” she told the London Daily Mail. “Many women who are given the opportunity to talk through their situation in a calm environment cease to panic and begin to consider other options. It is every woman’s right to be given the choice of access to professional help at the time of a crisis pregnancy.”

Labour MP Frank Field is also supporting the change, and he told the newspaper, “I’m anxious that taxpayers’ money is used so that people can have a choice – we are paying for independent counseling and that’s what should be provided.”

But a health Department spokesman would not say if the British government would support the proposed changes, explaining: “We are developing proposals to introduce independent counseling for women seeking abortion. These proposals are focused on improving women’s health and well-being. Final decisions on who should provide this counseling have not yet been made.”

The London-based Marie Stopes International abortion business did more than 100,000 abortions in the United Kingdom last year and received £60 million through the government’s NHS health care program to do so. As a result, it has significant financial interest to not see a drastic drop in the number of abortions. Another 80,000 are carried out annually in England by other abortion businesses.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children is wary about the proposed changes and Paul Tully, SPUC’s general secretary, told LifeNews in an email that he’s concerned about allowing the health department to draft changes.

“Handing the drafting of proposals relating to abortion to the Department of Health is like putting the fox in charge of the chicken-coop,” he said. “The Department of Health commissions the vast majority of abortions in Britain, and says doctors should provide abortion on demand. Successive governments have regarded abortion as an answer to unmarried teenagers and other vulnerable women who get pregnant.”

“Since 2004, most NHS abortions have been transferred to private clinics, and the health department now funds more than 9 out of 10 abortions at these clinics. If the Department now want counselors to help pregnant women avoid abortions, it would represent a major change of heart. We remain very wary of the proposals and the Department’s involvement,” Tully added. “Pro-life counseling can save many lives but independent counseling is not the same thing. It all depends on the approach of the counselor and the information provided.”

John Smeaton, SPUC’s director, urges that the new regulations make it so no counselor should be required to be a conduit to abortion services, and counselors who refuse on grounds of conscience or other good grounds to refer women to abortion services are not prevented from operating as pregnancy counselors.