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/ This alliance between health ministers and anti-choice groups is deeply concerning
Diane Abbott responds the fresh wave of anti-choice vigils across the country:
‘I think women across the country will be sickened that these hard-line anti-choice groups have been given this new lease of life by David Cameron’s government. This unholy alliance between this government and anti-choice campaigners is an attack on women, it’s an attack on abortion providers, and it’s also an attack on British democracy. It seems to me that David Cameron and Andrew Lansley have let their sympathy for this anti-choice campaign cloud their judgement, and blind them to the medical evidence. They are totally out of touch with medical opinion, and also with what women across the country are saying about this.
‘I have been a pro-choice campaigner for a long-time, and I see it as my duty to warn women about this. Ignoring this issue does not make it go away, because David Cameron’s government is pushing ahead with a policy consultation to open up the care system to organisations that are opposed to abortion in principle. We cannot let this government turn the clock back for millions of women, and I think women and families across Britain need to make their voice heard.
‘Last month, we saw Andrew Lansley order a raid on abortion providers, in which he briefed the media about it half way through the inspection, without a statement in Parliament; thousands of illegal attempts have been made to hack into the computers of Britain's largest provider of abortion services; and we have seen protestors outside clinics, building on the support they have been given by the government, mimicking the tactics of the American far right and harassing women and abortion clinic doctors and nurses.
She attacked the government’s new preferred option of a voluntary registration scheme for abortion counsellors, for which the government will launch a consultation on towards the end of April:
‘The government is proposing a voluntary registration scheme for providers of abortion counselling, opening up the system to any organisation, including those which are opposed to abortion in principle. This is fundamentally inappropriate and threatens genuinely informed consent. It will disrupt the care pathway for women.
‘If a woman seeking support with her decision around unintended pregnancy is directed to an outside counselling organisation, arranging an additional appointment is highly likely to cause delay. Not only is this unnecessarily burdensome to women it will also result in an increased need for later abortions.
‘It is vital that no woman should be signposted or referred by the NHS or by any registered healthcare professional to any counselling provider which does not agree to abide by current clinical guidelines developed by the RCOG or other relevant clinical body. I think making anti-choice organisations part of the NHS care pathway is unacceptable and will attract significant public opposition.’
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