Abortions are not the same as pensions

// 29 August 2011

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A photograph of a pro-choice demonstration, at the front of which is a woman with a fabric banner, reading The Government is set to announce changes to abortion law next week, which will involve pregnant women being offered ‘independent’ counselling, rather than receiving counselling from the organisation which is due to perform the procedure.

The change is being put in place by Nadine Dorries and Frank Field, both MPs, and the anti-abortion sentiments behind it are undeniable in the face of Dorries having

“criticised the “financial incentive” of the counselling offered by abortion clinics, claiming 60,000 of the annual 200,000 terminations would not take place if women were offered the chance for counselling elsewhere” (Guardian).

Nadine Dorries also said, “The important thing is that the government have highlighted and agreed that counselling by organisations that are paid to conduct the procedures is not independent […] That’s very reassuring.”

Similarly, Frank Field has said, “It is a general principle that advice and services should be separate,” […] I have no evidence of that [biased advice]. But we had no evidence of mis-selling of pensions until people investigated.” (Guardian).

The thing is that abortions are not the same as pensions (I think that qualifies as a sentence I never thought I would need to write). Abortions are healthcare, and with healthcare, the advice and services are generally not separate, and nor should they be. If a surgeon is going to be operating on me, I want her to be the one who talks me through the procedure and warns me of any risks. If a dentist is going to be pulling out one of my teeth, I want him, not an independent organisation (who is probably against the pulling of teeth) to give me the ‘facts’ beforehand.

The surgeon that did my last operation gave me all the facts I needed. I respected her opinion, and she knew the details of my case. These details can make a big difference to the advice you are given – if someone has diabetes, or heart disease, they might be given different surgical advice than someone without. If someone is taking certain medications, they need specific advice that pertains to their situation in advance of surgery. What we don’t need is to be directed to an organisation that is against the surgery ever taking place, who know nothing about our individual circumstances, who are thought to be in a better position to ‘advise’ because they will not be doing the procedure themselves.

In a healthcare context, learning from the misselling of pensions makes no sense at all. Many abortions are done in NHS hospitals – are they also thought to be profiting from women going ahead with a termination? Because if so, they also profit from people going ahead with verruca removal, chemotherapy and colonoscopies. Do we need independent organisations to advise us on those too?

[The image is a photograph of a pro-choice demonstration, at the front of which is a woman with a blue fabric banner, embroidered onto which is the words “Trust Women” in yellow. The photograph is by Debra Sweet and is used under a Creative Commons License]

Comments From You

Jennifer Drew // Posted 30 August 2011 at 5:23 pm

Exactly – abortions are not identical or even remotely similar to pensions. Thank you Phillipa for debunking yet another male-centric claim justifying the reassertion of male control over women and their bodies. Yes I know Nadine Dorries is female but she is the mouthpiece of men who are determined to reinstate total male control over women. Likewise I know many women parrot male centric claims and these women such as Dorries are putting men’s interests and views first and ignoring all women’s right to have autonomy and ownership over their bodies.

Changing the law so that anti-abortion groups are given the right to subject women to lies and deceit is about re-asserting male control and male ownership over women’s bodies. Would men be content with such lies if they were the ones who became pregnant and wanted a termination for whatever reason? I think not but then women aren’t human are they which is why male supremacy’s latest attack on women’s rights is happening because women are still not accorded their inherent human rights.

The issue is not about ‘coercing’ women into unwanted terminations rather it is the right for all women to decide for themselves and current legislation does not accord women the right of autonomy and ownership over their bodies because two independent medical doctors still have to sign the form ‘granting the woman a termination.’

However if the proposals concerning changing the NHS to a private practice do go ahead multi-national corporate bodies will take over the NHS and run it as a commercial enterprise at the expense of patients’ right to accessing good quality healthcare. But I do not see or read Fields and/or Dorries challenging this latest Tory driven enterprise. Instead these two individuals are focusing on making false claims in yet another attempt to re-assert male domination and male control over all women.

Laura // Posted 30 August 2011 at 8:43 pm

Well said, Pippa. I wrote to my MP about this yesterday – really awful, unnecessary step backwards.

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