Abortion groups attack Mensch MP’s proposal


10:04 am - September 3rd 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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Abortion groups informed Liberal Conspiracy late yesterday night that they were deeply concerned by a new amendment by Conservative MP Louise Mensch on abortion counselling.

Tabled yesterday afternoon, Mensch’s amendment was proposed as a more acceptable alternative to Dorries & Field MPs amendments.

It would not bar Marie Stopes and BPAS from offering counselling to women seeking abortion, but seek to rule out any “faith-based” and “ideologically based” service providers.

But Mensch’s amendment was also dismissed by the former Libdem MP Evan Harris, who said it was a “valiant effort” but “fundamentally flawed”.

Abortion Rights’s Darinka Aleksic sent a statement to Liberal Conspiracy that said:

Women considering abortion already have timely access to impartial, medically accurate advice. The current abortion counselling system is robust and serves women well. Like the Dorries/Field proposals, this amendment is a solution in search of a problem. There is absolutely no evidence that abortion providers do anything other than act in the best interests of their patients.

It is also very unclear how it would be decided if an organisation is ‘ideologically-based’. Who will decide what that term means? I’m afraid this amendment further confuses what is becoming an extremely opaque argument from anti-choice MPs.

BPAS chief executive Ann Furedi echoed the sentiment:

This amendment is another case of a solution in search of a problem. As senior doctors have confirmed over the past week, there is no reason to change the way in which pregnancy counselling and abortion referral is offered. BPAS is a charity and the vast majority of our work is done on behalf of the NHS; our ‘ideological position’ is one that promotes women’s choice.

We are concerned that those who propose changes to abortion services should make their recommendations based on the facts and the evidence, not on imaginary problems.

Dr Evan Harris said the problem was more than simply of specific groups and took issue with Mensch recommending the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy as the benchmark.

He said out that anyone can join BACP if they pay a fee, which did not indicate quality assurance for women seeking counselling.

In comments posted on Liberal Conspiracy yesterday, he said:

A woman can go to anyone she likes to talk about an unplanned pregnancy. Free speech, free association etc means we can not (and should not want to) stop ideological/faith based advisors peddling their myths & proselytising even though their victims are vulnerable. However we should insist on honesty and transparency of advertising such “services” and it should be unlawful to hide or disguises one’s directional approach or that they will never recommend abortion. That would be a worthwhile amendment instead!

The NHS should refer and signpost patients only to reliable services who use the RCOG guidelines. Anything else is unethical.

Abortion groups are instead supporting an amendment by the Libdem MP Julian Huppert – which was also tabled yesterday.

It reads:

All organisations offering information or advice in relation to unplanned pregnancy choices must follow current evidence-based guidance produced by a professional medical organisation specified by the secretary of state.

Women’s groups and abortion groups will be urging MPs from all parties to support this amendment instead.

Abortion Rights will also hold a press conference on Tuesday 6th September, to provide comment and information on abortion counselling amendments to the NHS bill.
Time: 1.00pm, Tuesday 6th September
Location: Room B, 1 Parliament Street, Westminster

Speakers will include:
Ann Furedi, Chief Executive, BPAS
Dr Evan Harris, BMA Ethics Cttee, former Liberal Democrat MP
Sarah Veale, Head of Equality and Employment, TUC
Katy Clark MP (Labour)
(further speakers to be confirmed)

Over 6000 people have contacted their MPs through the Abortion Rights website, urging them to vote against the counselling proposals.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


I am concerned by this “show”. It has happened too many times that the Christian Right have attempted to hijack legislation with pro-life amendments, which has, again and again, resulted in a slurry of pro-life and pro-abortion amendments, which confuses and polarises a debate which is of profound importance.

Whilst I do not support abortion, I tend towards Barack Obama’s position: “Abortion should be safe, legal and rare.” I support the original amendment by Dorries/Field, as it would enable a non-biased alternative to termination-agencies offering advice. Yet there must be options, not a reverting to only anti-abortion agencies being available.

I believe the Dorries/Field amendment would greatly reduce the hundreds of women who suffer post-abortion trauma and greatly reduce the number of socially-driven pre-birth infanticides (okay, emotionally charged language there) whilst preserving the liberal principle of enabling women to make an informed choice on the future, or lack of future, for themselves and their baby.

As I’ve got older, I’ve found it increasingly uncomfortable, as a bloke, talking about the rights of women – not the arguments in favour of a right to choose have in any way diminished, I have just come to realise that men are so far removed from the physical and emotional anguish of abortion, that our support seems somehow trite.
Be that as it may – the male MPs who will vote on the Health Bill have a chance to do something tangible for the rights of women and kick the pernicious Dorries-Field amendment (and the Mensch compromise) firmly into the long grass.
I expand on this in the following article posted on Allthatsleft.

http://www.allthatsleft.co.uk/2011/09/the-dorries-field-amendment-a-male-perspective/

Offer outrageous retrograde solution, stir for a while, then offer reasonable-in-comparison retrograde solution as some sort of ‘happy medium’. Breath sighs of relief until someone points out that the ground just shifted more in your opponents favour.

Small steps toward abolishing abortion indeed.

4. Just Visiting

Talking of womens’ rights, are LCers not concerned about FGM? – the Indonesians’ news paper Jakarta Globe reported on Friday:

Guidelines on how to perform female genital mutilation/cutting issued by the Indonesian Ministry of Health could cause an increase in the practice, medical experts and rights groups fear.

http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/home/fears-indonesian-female-circumcision-guidelines-could-increase-practice/462996

I became pregnant at the age of 17. I was confused, impressionable and too scared to tell friends/family as I was worried about how disappointed they would be.I went to my local family planning clinic, naively assuming they would advise me on how to make plans for the family I was expecting. I was asked to sit in the waiting room until the nurse who would arrange my abortion was ready to see me. I didn’t want an abortion. I told the nurse I wanted to keep my baby, she said I’d come to the wrong place and that they had no advice for me other than to speak to a doctor. I made an appointment with a doctor who sent me for a scan, at the scan the screen was turned away from me, I was told it would not be sensible to look at the screen as this made some young people feel emotionally attatched to the foetus. It is very difficult to argue with medical professionals when you’re a confused teenager. I went back to the doctor to speak to a midwife/pregnancy advisor. I told her I was sure I wanted to keep my baby but needed someone to tell me what to expect and some advice on breaking the news to my family. She told me that she strongly reccomended I continued with the termination, it would be a simple procedure and that I would be ‘a bit silly not to at my age.’
Feeling belittled I spoke to friends. To my suprise I was one of at least six girls at my school who had become pregnant. Six girls had been offered the same advice, five of them went through with the termination. One became depressed afterwards, as a result of this she dropped out of sixth form. Another has found out since that she is unlikely to be able to have children in the future, needless to say she regrets her choice. One believes that it was the best decision for her at the time.She still dropped out of uni for other reasons. I lost contact with the other girls. My school was one of the top grammar schools in the country, many of the pupils were from families that would have been able to support them emotionally and financially should they have continued with their pregnancies.
As for me, I ignored the grownups. I’m a proud mum to a lovely daughter. I took one year out when she was born, then returned to college to complete my A levels in English, art, history and dance. I went on to do a part time art foundation degree in art and a horse riding instructors course (to enable me to make money on weekends by teaching free lance.) My daughter went to nursery whilst I was studying as my parent works full time. Then my daughter and I moved away to university (I wanted to leave my hometown to see a bit of the world) I am in my second year of an English degree and my daughter is at a lovely local primary school where she is learning Welsh! We have a wonderful life, I pay for a baby sitter for occasional nights out and I budget so that my daughter can spend her weekends in ballet lessons, swimming or horse riding. I took out the same loans as other students to fund our life style, plus a grant that all mature students are entitled to. I am achieving consistent high grades and trying to decide between a career in teaching or studying for a PHD on completion of my course. I think it would have been difficult not to get caught up in non educational side to student life had my daughter not been with me, now the world is very much our oyster.
My experience of the NHS through my pregnancy was appalling. At times I felt bullied into having an abortion. Several medical professionals made me feel like a silly child. I understand (more than most) the implications of being a young parent and how society views us, but we should be given honest practical and strategical advice to enable us to make our choices.
This is a very brief account of my experiences. If anybody wants more HONEST advice on how young girls are treated by appointed advisors during pregnancy I am happy to tell you by email. Yes a woman can go to anyone for advice when she is pregnant, but a family planning clinic is the first port of call to many. To Ann Furedi, who is concerned that those who propose changes to abortion services should make their recommendations based on the facts and the evidence, not on imaginary problems… spend ten minutes in an abortion clinic waiting room and the problem becomes a little less imaginary. The FACT is that many girls are MADE to believe there is only one realistic option and so many live to regret it. Being a parent is like being given super powers which enable you to take on the world. If someone would have told me this is the early stages of my pregnancy it would not have been such a humiliating experience.

6. Chaise Guevara

@ 4 JV

I’m sure they are, but I’ve no idea why you’re acting surprised that it isn’t mentioned in a thread on a totally different topic.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch's proposal http://t.co/rzyDbmI

  2. DPWF

    Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch's proposal http://t.co/rzyDbmI

  3. Hannah Claytor

    Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch's proposal http://t.co/oQbahhe /via @libcon

  4. Tory Totty Online

    RT @libcon: Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch's proposal http://t.co/OEiMQj6 >–I wish these abortion-obsessed women would pipe down

  5. sunny hundal

    Exclusive: Abortion groups and @DrEvanHarris criticise counselling proposal by @LouiseMensch MP http://t.co/3PPaMvS

  6. Marie J

    Exclusive: Abortion groups and @DrEvanHarris criticise counselling proposal by @LouiseMensch MP http://t.co/3PPaMvS

  7. Dr Evan Harris

    Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch’s proposal | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/eHQY98R via @libcon

  8. Mike Mckenzie

    Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch’s proposal | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/eHQY98R via @libcon

  9. Christa Mackinnon

    Exclusive: Abortion groups and @DrEvanHarris criticise counselling proposal by @LouiseMensch MP http://t.co/3PPaMvS

  10. Rob Sculthorpe

    “@DrEvanHarris: Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch’s proposal | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/Y0x3AT7 via @libcon”

  11. Marie J

    @LouisMensch 's abortion counselling amendment is "a solution in search of a problem" http://t.co/v8wtyHy. Politicians should just butt out

  12. gina sargunar

    Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch’s proposal | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/eHQY98R via @libcon

  13. Lucy James

    Exclusive: Abortion groups and @DrEvanHarris criticise counselling proposal by @LouiseMensch MP http://t.co/3PPaMvS

  14. Paul Akroyd

    Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch’s proposal | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/H0mErga

  15. David Galbreath

    “@sunny_hundal: Exclusive: Abortion groups and @DrEvanHarris criticise counselling proposal by @LouiseMensch MP http://t.co/uBNe2E6”

  16. Nicola Chan

    Exclusive: Abortion groups and @DrEvanHarris criticise counselling proposal by @LouiseMensch MP http://t.co/3PPaMvS

  17. Lucy James

    Mensch's proposed amendment to abortion laws another 'solution in search of a problem' http://t.co/byInNGe @Abortion_Rights #prochoice

  18. Shakey

    Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch’s proposal | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/eHQY98R via @libcon

  19. Will Porter

    Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch’s proposal | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/eHQY98R via @libcon

  20. Rory Hegarty

    Exclusive: Abortion groups and @DrEvanHarris criticise counselling proposal by @LouiseMensch MP http://t.co/3PPaMvS

  21. Alex Braithwaite

    Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch's proposal http://t.co/rzyDbmI

  22. Richard Maddrell

    RT @DrEvanHarris: Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch’s proposal http://t.co/pCK7BVO via @libcon – a solution in search of a problem

  23. Dànaidh Ratnaike

    Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch’s proposal http://t.co/kVrmKs8 @sunny_hundal

  24. HazeW

    Exclusive: Abortion groups and @DrEvanHarris criticise counselling proposal by @LouiseMensch MP http://t.co/3PPaMvS

  25. Graham Johnston

    Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch’s proposal | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/eHQY98R via @libcon

  26. Progressive Women

    Mensch's proposed amendment to abortion laws another 'solution in search of a problem' http://t.co/byInNGe @Abortion_Rights #prochoice

  27. Nemo Fairbrother

    Exclusive: Abortion groups and @DrEvanHarris criticise counselling proposal by @LouiseMensch MP http://t.co/3PPaMvS

  28. Julian Huppert

    RT @libcon: Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch's proposal http://t.co/93X8hUb << and support mine 🙂

  29. Sarah Brown

    RT @libcon: Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch's proposal http://t.co/93X8hUb << and support mine 🙂

  30. Rebecca Taylor

    RT @libcon: Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch's proposal http://t.co/93X8hUb << and support mine 🙂

  31. Sam Chong

    RT @libcon: Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch's proposal http://t.co/FJ7mjAb

  32. DPWF

    RT @libcon: Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch's proposal http://t.co/93X8hUb << and support mine 🙂

  33. Funny Bunny

    RT @libcon: Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch's proposal http://t.co/93X8hUb << and support mine 🙂

  34. Hannanonymous

    Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch’s proposal | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/eHQY98R via @libcon

  35. Christine Burns

    Abortion groups line up to attack Louise Mensch's alternative abortion proposal http://t.co/6VvxXq7 "A solution in search of a problem"

  36. odotm

    RT @libcon: Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch's proposal http://t.co/93X8hUb << and support mine 🙂

  37. amol rajan

    RT @libcon: Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch's proposal http://t.co/93X8hUb << and support mine 🙂

  38. South Londoner

    via @sunny_hundal Abortion grps+ @DrEvanHarris criticise proposal @LouiseMensch http://t.co/BattW1D 'solution in search of a problem.'

  39. JacAbsolute

    via @sunny_hundal Abortion grps+ @DrEvanHarris criticise proposal @LouiseMensch http://t.co/BattW1D 'solution in search of a problem.'

  40. Feminist News

    Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch's proposal http://t.co/u3LQu8B

  41. DPWF

    Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch's proposal http://t.co/u3LQu8B

  42. Denise Christie

    Mensch's proposed amendment to abortion laws another 'solution in search of a problem' http://t.co/byInNGe @Abortion_Rights #prochoice

  43. lil

    @julianhuppert: RT @libcon: Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch's proposal http://t.co/r7lOaO5 << and support mine 🙂 got to love academics

  44. Darren Hanson

    Exclusive: Abortion groups and @DrEvanHarris criticise counselling proposal by @LouiseMensch MP http://t.co/3PPaMvS

  45. Darren Hanson

    Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch’s proposal | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/eHQY98R via @libcon

  46. Rep in the Region

    Exclusive: Abortion groups and @DrEvanHarris criticise counselling proposal by @LouiseMensch MP http://t.co/3PPaMvS

  47. Craig Wright

    RT @libcon: Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch's proposal http://t.co/93X8hUb << and support mine 🙂

  48. sunny hundal

    RT @libcon: Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch's proposal http://t.co/93X8hUb << and support mine 🙂

  49. Duncan Stott

    RT @libcon: Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch's proposal http://t.co/93X8hUb << and support mine 🙂

  50. TheCreativeCrip

    RT @libcon: Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch's proposal http://t.co/93X8hUb << and support mine 🙂

  51. David Hackett

    Exclusive: Abortion groups and @DrEvanHarris criticise counselling proposal by @LouiseMensch MP http://t.co/3PPaMvS

  52. sunny hundal

    Exclusive from this morning: 'Abortion groups attack Tory MP Louise Mensch’s proposal too' http://t.co/3PPaMvS

  53. House Of Twits

    RT @sunny_hundal Exclusive from this morning: 'Abortion groups attack Tory MP Louise Mensch’s proposal too' http://t.co/Ob3qIPk

  54. Parveen Hassan

    RT @sunny_hundal Exclusive from this morning: 'Abortion groups attack Tory MP Louise Mensch’s proposal too' http://t.co/Ob3qIPk

  55. Parveen Hassan

    RT @sunny_hundal Exclusive from this morning: 'Abortion groups attack Tory MP Louise Mensch’s proposal too' http://t.co/Ob3qIPk

  56. Parveen Hassan

    RT @sunny_hundal Exclusive from this morning: 'Abortion groups attack Tory MP Louise Mensch’s proposal too' http://t.co/Ob3qIPk

  57. Pucci Dellanno

    Hey .@LouiseMensch what makes YOU too think you have rights over MY body?As an adult,I can choose for me http://t.co/ihNx2mi #womensrights

  58. Paul Abbott

    Exclusive from this morning: 'Abortion groups attack Tory MP Louise Mensch’s proposal too' http://t.co/3PPaMvS

  59. SSchleifer

    Exclusive from this morning: 'Abortion groups attack Tory MP Louise Mensch’s proposal too' http://t.co/3PPaMvS

  60. Paul Abbott

    @ChrisLeslieMP Mensch's are also critically flawed/suspect: http://t.co/uK1dDQK

  61. Derek Thomas

    Abortion groups attack Mensch MP’s proposal | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/p5Y7t2E via @libcon

  62. Fraser Keil

    Abortion groups attack Mensch MP’s proposal | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/p5Y7t2E via @libcon

  63. Fraser Keil

    Abortion groups attack Mensch MP’s proposal | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/skiiiJB via @libcon

  64. Kilsally

    Abortion groups attack Louise Mensch’s proposal | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/eHQY98R via @libcon

  65. jess hynes

    @LouiseMensch Please read my post, it's jess 1.08pm on 05/09 http://t.co/xtMAiJD

  66. Maeve McKeown

    @jester @chitranagarajan @sajarina @Abortion_Rights have a press conference at 1pm, but I'm not aware of any protests http://t.co/NTkFs1q

  67. Fem Rocks

    No news of any pro choice protests tomorrow. @Abortion_Rights are holding a press conference at 1pm in Westminster http://t.co/z31suHG

  68. Maeve McKeown

    No news of any pro choice protests tomorrow. @Abortion_Rights are holding a press conference at 1pm in Westminster http://t.co/z31suHG

  69. When the Tories Went Too Far: The Abortion Amendment » Global Activist Network

    […] all men so have most likely not had to think about abortion); but according to Liberal Conspiracy, 6,000 people have written to their local MPs through the Abortion Rights website, to make sure they get their […]





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