Conservative backbench MP, Nadine Dorries, has tabled an adjournment debate on the subject of abortion which is due to take place on Tuesday (02.11.10). The debate entitled “Government policy on the information provided to women prior to a request for a termination of pregnancy” is likely to begin at around 10pm at the close of the day’s parliamentary business and will last around half an hour. Ms Dorries will speak, a government minister will reply and backbench MPs will have the opportunity to discuss the issue, but there will be no vote.
The debate has been spurred by the publication of a poll sponsored by anti-choice group Christian Concern for our Nation. As we reported last week, this organisation has engaged in a number of publicity stunts, seeking to mark Wednesday’s 43rd anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act, including laying 572 plastic foetuses outside Parliament representing, according to Christian Concern, the number of abortions taking place each day.
The poll, carried out by ComRes, found support for “a woman’s right, enshrined in law, to be informed of all the physical, psychological and emotional risks associated with abortion”, and it is this finding that Dorries wishes to highlight in the debate.
As our supporters will know, Abortion Rights supports women receiving all necessary information on all aspects of their reproductive health. Medical practitioners are already obliged to provide this information to women, as they are with any other medical procedure.
However, this poll finding will be used by anti-choice activists to promote the provision of exaggerated, directive and misleading information to women. Similar measures, which have become law in parts of the United States, have resulted in women being told that abortion will give them breast cancer and receiving other grossly inaccurate medical information.
Abortion is one of the safest, most common medical procedures and measures which amount to mandatory counselling over and above that which received for far more complex and high-risk medical procedures simply stigmatises abortion and creates further delays and barriers to access.
We would encourage supporters to contact pro-choice MPs to ask them to attend the debate and voice their opposition to any further restrictions to women’s right to access abortion services.