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Nadine Dorries MP: The state must stop withholding vital information from women considering an abortion

DORRIES-Nadine Nadine Dorries is MP for Mid Bedfordshire and a member of the Health Select Committee.

It is an unfortunate fact that the issue of abortion and women’s sexual health has been paralysed and abandoned on the wasteland between political ideology and religious dogma for a very long time.

Pro-life groups have continually refused to compromise and at times resorted to tactics which have worked so badly against them, that they put their own cause back ten years. A number of years ago, one organisation thought it appropriate to send silicone foetus models in the post to MPs which were opened by female researchers, who were naturally appalled, as were the MPs.

The political pro-choicers have been as bad. So terrified have they been of any threat to a woman’s right to an abortion, that the union-funded pro-choice organisations have suppressed debate and lobbied for industrialised abortion to such a point, that women no longer have any choice whatsoever. I base that comment on the fact that choice can only exist, when information is available upon which to base that choice.

A woman who may be considering an abortion today is not only denied the information she requires in order to make an informed choice, she is in my opinion, via the withholding of crucial information, subjected to State abuse.

Research which published in the Journal of Psychiatry in 2008 indicated that 30% of pregnant women who undergo an abortion will be more likely to suffer from depression or other mental health issues later in life than those women who have been pregnant and do not abort. Similar studies carried out around the world endorse the fact that this evidence is overwhelmingly conclusive. Women should be told this prior to committing to an abortion, but they aren’t.

There are voluntary organisations willing to help women who may wish to continue with the pregnancy. Women who feel totally alone and helpless should be told this, but they aren’t.

There are an estimated 13,000 couples in the UK desperately waiting to adopt a baby. All women, especially those who are resorting to abortion as an act of desperation, should be told this, but they aren’t.

More and more doctors are convinced that abortion increases the probability of pre-term delivery in later pregnancies. Women considering an abortion are never informed of this.

For the sake of women, it is no longer enough to accept the shock, horror reaction of the political ideologues to the concept of adoption, because it’s not their pregnancy, it’s not their choice. Nor mine. It’s the choice of the woman who is pregnant and she should be provided with all the support and information she needs and allowed to make that choice. So often I have heard the argument that it would be cruel to subject a woman to a pregnancy with the knowledge that she would be handing a baby over to be adopted.

To some women that may be the preferable option. Some women may regard adoption as being able to turn a bad situation into something positive. They may regard it as a lifeline. And if it’s one they don’t take, then that’s their choice. But at least they went into an abortion empowered by knowledge, with support and that must in some way help reduce the likelihood of suffering from depression in later life.

We must also remember what an abortion is. Depending on your own belief, for many women it is either the ending of a potential life, or the ending of a life. To many, that is a big deal. Abortion is not a medical procedure. It does not heal a disease or an infection. Ironically, if it were a medical procedure, much more thought, care and consideration would be given to the ‘patient’. But a woman seeking an abortion isn’t ill. She isn’t regarded as a ‘patient’. She is someone whose pregnancy, or more accurately the ending thereof, contributes to the multi-million pound abortion industry

In this country we perform almost six hundred abortions per day. In countries where it is standard practice to inform women of all the options and provide a ‘cooling off’ period to allow women the time to absorb information and think clearly, the average daily abortion rate reduces by one third. I exclude the countries with religious/cultural influence such as Italy, Spain and Portugal from this analogy.

In addition to being given no information, women are given no time to think through what they are about to do. As a result of my campaign during the last Parliament to reduce the upper week limit at which abortion takes place from twenty four weeks to twenty, I have been contacted by one woman after another, all telling me the same story. The GP told them to think it through for a few more days. They did. They changed their mind. The emails are often accompanied by a photograph of a happy child.

Fully informed consent has to happen. This is 2010. It is a disgrace that women are treated in this way and information is deliberately withheld. It is a disgrace that information regarding adoption is suppressed because it is felt that women cannot ‘cope’ with considering this option. If women are able to get pregnant and consider an abortion they are entitled to consider the options and make up their own mind. They don’t need the state to do it on their behalf.

Neither pro-life nor pro-choice will approve of my position. However, the end result of a policy of fully informed choice prior to abortion would, as evidence shows, result in a far fewer number of abortions. How can anyone fail to endorse that?


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