I am pleased to report that today is a great day to be a woman in Britain. Health minister, Anna Soubry, has announced that the government no longer plans to undertake a consultation on abortion counselling - more accurately, that would be the counselling that women undergo before deciding if they want to have an abortion or carry an unplanned pregnancy to term or, in some cases, before terminating a pregnancy where there are serious foetal abnormalities. "Abortion counselling" is shorthand for what can be a complicated process.
It was Nadine Dorries' bizarre idea to ban abortion providers, such as BPAS and Marie Stopes, from providing such counselling. Never mind that their counsellors are accredited by the British Assocation for Counselling and Psychotherapy and trained to go through all options with the women who come through their doors. Dorries instead seemed convinced that forcing all women who want counselling to seek it elsewhere would not only reduce abortion, but would also reduce late-term abortions. This would cause many women to delay an abortion because of the additional hurdle of finding another counsellor and attending another appointment. How this would reduce late-term abortions is a mystery to anyone who can count off the weeks of the first trimester.
The even better news is Soubry's announcement that ministers would look at recommendations into an inquiry into unwanted pregnancy that is being held by a cross-party group of MPs. This would be the inquiry I blogged about on October 17, the inquiry that has received scant coverage from the mainstream media. It seems the din of Dorries is more newsworthy than an inquiry which is looking into the causes of unwanted pregnancy, the abortion rate and how mothers who didn't plan to be pregnant are faring.
Could this be the end of the road for Dorries and miscast Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, trying to drop the time limit from 24 weeks to 12 weeks? Given I've already pointed out why that idea is idiotic, I really hope so.
Unfortunately, the adversarial shenanigans of politics, such as Tories versus Labour, Lib-Dems versus Tories and Nadine Dorries versus pretty much everyone, are considered sexier than a sensible inquiry that involves the cooperation of the three major parties.
If Nadine Dorries is at all serious about lowering Britain's abortion rate, it would behoove her to support this inquiry, carefully consider the recommendations, which are expected to be released before Christmas, and start looking at this issue from a whole new perspective. Instead of Dorries' unique brand of evidence-free hysteria, it is time to look at the issues surrounding unplanned pregnancy armed with facts, statistics and an open mind.
Like it or not, access to birth control and open, shame-free, dogma-free sex education are widely considered to play a big part in the low teen abortion rate in Germany and the Netherlands. Trying to prevent the unplanned pregnancies in the first place is a far saner approach than Nadine Dorries' arse-backwards dream of making life harder for pregnant women in difficult situations.
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