Abortion Rights Blog

The national pro-choice campaign
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Anti-choice activists jump on ‘new’ abortion figures

ImageAnti-abortion activists are claiming that the annual costs of abortion are £30 million higher than previously thought.

Supposed ‘new figures’ have come to light, claimed the Daily Telegraph, which show that more public money to fund abortions is channelled to private clinics rather than NHS hospitals.

The Telegraph added: “Campaigners say the new calculations provide more reason to stop the organisations that offer counselling to pregnant women also performing terminations, which are now estimated to cost £680 each, on the grounds that it represents a conflict of interest.”

(The newspaper did not specify exactly which “campaigners” it meant, but it is safe to assume they are anti-choice, as was every person quoted in the article.)

The supposed discrepancy arose because different organisations have interpreted instructions on how to measure costs in different ways.

According to the revised figures, abortion care cost £118 million in 2010, with £75 million of that figure going to private providers, and £44 million to NHS centres. The number of abortions carried out in 2010 also rose under the revised numbers, from 136,000 to 173,000. It is unclear how the ‘extra’ 37,000 abortions were missed from the original figures.

Leading abortion provider bpas cast doubt on the figures quoted in the Telegraph story and commented,

“bpas began providing abortion care at a time when the NHS was either unable or unwilling to provide it. Many local abortion services today are provided by bpas, because there is wide acceptance that we provide compassionate care combined with high clinical standards. This is often at a lower cost than the NHS because we are a charity dedicated to this particular area of women’s healthcare.

Anti-abortion politicians like to talk about the ‘multi-million pound abortion industry’ – the reality is we are a not-for-profit organisation committed to ensuring a woman can access high quality support and services as she makes the decision that is right for her.”

Part of a wider attack

This latest ‘story’ is another example of the anti-choice movement’s attack on private pregnancy providers. It follows on from Nadine Dorries’ attempt to introduce an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill earlier this year, which would have given anti-abortion groups the opportunity to insert themselves into the abortion counselling process.

The Department of Health revealed recently that, as it prepared for the upcoming abortion counselling consultations, it is not only conducting fact-finding missions to abortion providers such as BPAS and Marie Stopes, it is also visiting pregnancy counselling centres run by anti-choice organisations like ‘Life’ and Care Confidential.