Slave new world… in case you will get there!
Daily Mail, February 28, 2011, by Fiona Macrae
Pregnant women should be told that having an abortion is safer than having a baby, highly contentious new advice from doctors states.
The guidelines, from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, also say that most women who terminate a pregnancy will not suffer any psychological problems as a result.
The guidance, which is still in draft form, has horrified medical ethicists and Christian groups, who say it forces an ‘absurdly liberal agenda’ on women in a vulnerable situation.
And, with abortion clinics among those contributing to the guidance, they likened the procedure to allowing a tobacco company to review the consequence of smoking or putting McDonald’s in charge of a study on how fast food affects health.
The RCOG guidance on the care of women asking for an abortion states is aimed at all doctors, nurses and counsellors involved in terminations.
One of the first sections, on ‘what women need to know’ about abortion, states that major complications are rare and that women ‘should be advised that abortion is generally safer than continuing a pregnancy to term’.
But critics called on the RCOG to produce the evidence to back its claim, and added that many complications caused by abortions will be recorded in A&E and other stats and so are missing from the official tally.
The chapter finishes with the statement that ‘the great majority’ of women who have abortions do not experience adverse psychological effects.
It continues: ‘Although abortion can be associated with a range of feelings, long-term feelings of guilt, sadness and regret appear only to linger in a minority of women.’
This leaves much less room for doubt that than current RCOG advice, while simply states that while rates of psychiatric illness and self-harm are higher in women who’ve had an abortion, there’s no evidence that the termination itself was the trigger.
Dr Peter Saunders, of the Christian Medical Fellowship, accused the RCOG of ‘perpetuating a myth’ about the safety of abortion.
Questioning why the report’s 18 authors include representatives from two of the country’s largest abortion clinics but not one psychiatrist, he said: ‘The RCOG has been heavily criticised in the past for underplaying the physical and psychological consequences of abortion for women and this new document appears to continue in that vein.
‘Asking this group to comment objectively and honestly about the physical and psychological consequences of abortion for women is like asking Philip Morris or British American Tobacco to review the health consequences of smoking or Macdonald’s to outline the adverse effects of fast food consumption.
‘There are simply too many financial and ideological vested interests at stake that threaten a fair assessment.’
Trevor Stammers, a former GP and a lecturer in medical ethics at St Mary’s University College in Surrey, said the RCOG had ignored one the most authoritative studies into the psychiatric effects of abortion.
He also accused it of rushing out the updated guidance ahead of a Royal College of Psychiatry report into the psychological effects of abortion.
He said: ‘When they can’t refute the evidence, they have just ignored it. This is an absolutely disgraceful stitch up that they have forced through quickly.’
Josephine Quintavalle, of campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said the report was written from pro-abortion perspective.
She added: ‘I don’t believe that most women considering abortions are worried it will kill them or are worrying about dying in childbirth; this is a blatant attempt to force an absurdly liberal agenda on women when they are at their most vulnerable.’
Speaking in a personal capacity, Professor Patricia Casey, a consultant psychiatrist and fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘The message this sends out is very worrying.
‘There are more than 30 studies showing an association between psychological trauma and abortion.
But Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said: ‘This guidance isn’t a political document and isn’t trying to persuade women to have abortions.’
The RCOG stressed that the guidance is still in draft form. A spokesman said the that suggestions made in a consolation, which ended on Friday, could lead to some changes being made.