The Guardian 12 February 2014
The battle for a woman’s right to choose when it comes to abortion is usually framed in terms of geographical boundaries, time limits and clinic regulation. For a woman experiencing that knot of panic from a missed period or devastating news – sickness, job loss, relationship breakdown – during a planned pregnancy, these things are vital. But to have real control over what is happening to her, she also needs clear and accurate information about her choices.
So it was particularly terrifying to read in the Daily Telegraph this week that “crisis pregnancy centres” are alleged to be routinely lying and scaremongering to suit their own religiously driven anti-choice agenda.
At the same time, a report released today by the sexual health organisation Brook alleges that these organisations are misleading women up and down the country, including in schools and prisons.
These organisations have useful and official-sounding names, such as the Central London Women’s Centre and CareConfidential. The latter is even linked to on the NHS’s official website page on abortion. At first glance they look like any other medical centre.
The information they provide, however, doesn’t meet the standards we expect from NHS-approved medical advice providers. Many are telling women there is a link between abortion and infertility. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says there is no evidence of such a link for legal abortion. The risks are real but only for women who have illegal, “backstreet” abortions. The conclusion we should draw is the urgent need to end these unsafe practices by legalising abortion in Northern Ireland and around the world.