Two Sociology lecturers at Aston University have recently published a study claiming to show that women object to the peaceful presence of members of the public outside abortion clinic. The study was conducted in tandem with the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS).
BPAS is one of the largest abortion chains in the country and has been actively lobbying for “buffer zones” which would ban pro-life counsellors from peacefully offering women alternatives outside abortion clinics. They support abortion on demand for any reason all the way up to birth – including sex-selective abortion and aborting disabled babies.
It is factors like these – as well as the poor level of academic rigour shown in the study’s final report – that raises serious questions as to why anyone should take this study at face value.
“Poor quality of research”
Paul Tully, SPUC’s General Secretary, was unimpressed by the study:
“This ‘report’ represents a regrettable effort to prop up a political initiative by a commercial private medical service – an abortion clinic chain – designed to protect commercial interests.
The poor quality of the research is painfully evident from reading the report, which blandly admits many of the gross flaws – the use of leading language in the questions, the reliance of the commercial provider to supply data, etc. The data, such as it is, is provided by the service provider – not independently sourced.
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The interviewees/respondents are not distinguished between women undergoing abortions and others – the parents, girl-friends, partners, or perhaps abusers of the clinics’ clients – who might well have an interesting perspective on those offering women alternatives, but whose views are likely to distort results, and make the assertion in the first paragraph above, that the presence of anti-abortion activists “represents a significant source of distress” hardly supportable on the data.
75% of responses ignored
“Further, the study itself notes (paragraph 8) that only about a quarter (perhaps less?) of the respondents said that it was inappropriate to allow anti-abortionists to stand near clinics. Perhaps the other three-quarters recognised that what they were being offered outside the clinic was real help and support – something that they are not offered in BPAS clinics – in short, a genuine choice.
The poor quality of the “study” stands in contrast to much of the research that other members of the university produce. It does not even include a copy of an interview questionnaire as used by the clinics.
Nor does it include any proper statistical breakdown of responses.
“Flawed from the outset”
“The approach is flawed from the outset in failing to encompass the perspective of women who took up the offer of help from pavement-counsellors and decided to keep their babies.
It is also worth noting the context in which the authors have chosen to publish their report. The page on which they have published their findings is accompanied by a photo that appears to be a crowd of 100 or more people in a continental street holding banners in Polish or Czech. This gives a misleading impression of pavement counsellors (who typically operate solo near a clinic entrance, with 3 or 4 supporters standing a few yards away praying). The use of the terms “protest” and “demonstration” are inaccurate and misleading.
The authors have also been very clear about their personal support for BPAS’s political campaign for buffer zones, and have been making that case in the press. It is hardly surprising that this ‘report’ is nothing but sheer propaganda.”