So, on the 16th April I sent an email to my MP- Norman Lamb- about the amendments to the Health and Social care bill that Nadine Dorries and Frank Field have tabled that propose that people seeking abortion should receive ‘counselling’ about the ‘real risks’ involved in abortion.
Sadly for Dorries and Field, those ‘risks’ they keep talking about? Those ones that she claims the evil obstetricians and evil gynaecologists’ don’t tell you about because they are a part of the ‘abortion industry’? Yeah, they don’t actually exist.
In the UK informed consent from the patient is required before any medical procedure, including abortion, can be carried out. Practitioners are required to discuss all potential risks and complications, both physical and psychological, with the patient. Abortion in the UK is already thoroughly and stringently regulated; it’s the only medical procedure in the UK that requires two doctors to give the ok before it can occur.
When carried out clinically and legally abortion is, for many women, safer than actually having the baby at full term. In the UK the risks of haemorrhaging during an abortion is about 0.01% and damage to the cervix and womb occurs in less than 1% and 0.04% of abortions respectively. Less than 0.01% of medical abortions carried out between 12 and 24 weeks causes damage to the womb. These risks are, evidently, incredibly low. Abortion is one of the safest procedures a person can have. And yet, despite Dorries’s claims, these tiny risks are still made plain to the patient, because that’s what informed consent is. Giving all relevant information to a person so they can make their decision with the possession of the all facts at their disposal.
Worse still for Dorries’ and Field’s case is the evidence that the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists cites in its new draft guidelines that “The great majority of women who have abortions do not experience adverse psychological [consequences].”
A systematic review of the evidence from 21 studies of abortion and adverse mental health outcomes did not support higher rates of a range of mental health outcomes in those who undergo abortion compared with their respective comparison groups, either women who delivered or women who had never been pregnant.
Although the evidence in this area is conflicting, there are significant design flaws in many of the studies, and those studies that do support a relationship between abortion and adverse mental health outcomes tend to be weaker methodologically. The evidence review by Major et al. (2009) which updates the report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, 2008 confirms that the most rigorous studies support the view that any observed associations between abortion and mental health problems do not appear to be related to abortion itself but to pre-existing conditions and co-occurring risk factors.
Although abortion can be associated with a range of feelings, long term feelings of sadness, guilt and regret appear to linger in only a minority of women.
Dorries and Field are trying to use the same tactics employed (sadly successfully) in the US to strangle abortion access for pregnant people. Anti-choicers know that by couching their hardline anti-choice views in moderate language they become far more reasonable sounding, especially when the change they’re gunning for is seen as not all that big. Want to ban later term abortions (several procedures including the safest and most commonly used abortion technique in the second trimester)? Rename it ‘partial birth abortion‘ to give the misleading impression it will only ban access to abortions of viable foetuses, and watch the ban get passed!
Their aim is to eventually get abortion banned altogether. Both Dorries and Field have already tried to restrict access to abortion, but much more blatantly, in 2008 where Dorries tried to lower the time limit from 24 down to 22 weeks and Field tried to bring in a third doctor for pregnancy that has exceeded 24 weeks.
They failed then, but the worrying thing is that only 27 out of 162 Tory MPs and just over half of the Lib Dems voted against those amendments. The make up of Parliament has shifted significantly since then and now; a victory is not by any means certain.
I urge anyone from the UK to contact your MP and highlight these proposals and how not okay they are.
Here is a website that lets you quickly and easily email your MP. They do not allow form letters (they cross-check each one and delete any that seem to be the same) so I’m afraid you’re going to have to write your own.
We need to let the MPs of our country know that we will not let them erode our rights away.