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We welcome the government’s announcement that it is supportive of the spirit of the ‘independent abortion counselling’ amendments and that it intends to bring forward proposals for regulations. We look forward to continuing to work with government to secure proper investigation of all the relevant issues and to ensuring that women considering abortion are provided with the opportunity to access the information, advice and counselling that they deserve. Please check back for further developments.

Issued by the Right to Know Campaign

Press Release
For immediate release
18 July 2011

Marketing tactics used to increase abortion pressure

Right to Know (RTK) has today (18JUL) launched a report that for the first time reveals the pressure that women come under to proceed with an abortion once they are referred to an outsourced NHS provider.

A copy of the report is available here.

It provides new evidence on the financial motivation of abortion providers to grow their market share and shows where counselling comes into to conflict with a strong drive to promote abortion.

The report shows that abortion providers, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) and Marie Stopes International (MSI) are strongly driven by financial motivations and see success in increasing the number of abortions that they perform. Both organisations employ Business Development experts to promote abortion and increase revenues. They have business plan objectives and targets to increase the number of abortions that they perform.

The great tragedy of this business like approach is that women who are referred to bpas or MSI for an NHS abortion are denied access to any other source of independent counselling. These organisations depend on their income from providing and selling abortion and are not the appropriate place to provide pre-abortion counselling to vulnerable women who need support.

This is what the amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill proposed by MPs Nadine Dorries and Frank Field, will remedy.

The RTK report reveals a number of examples where women, who are potentially in a highly vulnerable situation, are on the receiving end of sales messages designed to promote the abortion choice.

(1) Counselling mixed in with a medical assessment the first step of an abortion.

This quote is from the bpas website page and explains that counselling is mixed in with the first step of an abortion:

“Counselling is part of the initial consultation at bpas during which you will also have a medical screening so that we can asses your stage of pregnancy and medical history to find out which methods of abortion are most suitable for you.”

Right to Know said,

“It is a shock to see abortion counselling combined with the first steps of an abortion, but this is inevitable when counselling is provided by an organisation motivated to promote and sell abortion. It’s the very reason why women need a right to independent counselling. “Combining counselling with the first medical steps for abortion puts pressure on women and trivialises the decision-making process.”

(2) Sales messages used to promote the abortion choice even when counselling is being discussed.

The report reveals that the marketing techniques used to promote abortion spill-over into the counselling arena. This means that women are receiving messages to promote the abortion choice even when they are looking for counselling advice.

A spokesperson for Right to Know said,

“There is no better example of why women urgently need access to independent counselling than the bpas website, where messages designed to promote the abortion choice are in the most prominent position on the counselling page.”

“Imagine your daughter, sister or girlfriend being forced to get counselling from abortion providers who make money from promoting their service and being denied the choice of any other provider. That’s why the amendment to the Health and Social Care bill is so important.”

Abortion providers use ‘social validation’ messages, like regularly promoting that ‘one in three women in the UK will have an abortion by the time they are 45’. The RTK report shows that this is a classic marketing technique to promote abortion sales and is a tactic used by bpas in much of their literature that they give to women visiting their clinics.

Right to Know added;

“It’s very difficult to turn off the marketing and sales tap when you have an organisation passionately motivated about promoting the services it is paid to provide. This report shows where the cracks appear and how highly vulnerable women come under pressure to abort their pregnancy.

“We need to see the financial conflicts removed from the provision of pre-abortion counselling.”

ENDS.


Notes to editors

  • A copy of the report is available here.
  • Right to Know is a campaign group focused on improving the flow of information to women about abortion.
  • RTK supports the amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill which provides a right in law to non-compulsory independent counselling, meaning that women have more choice in the counselling services that they can access and removes the financial conflict from the abortion process.
  • 111,775 NHS abortions outsourced to private providers in 2010 worth an estimated 60m.
  • Total number of abortions that took place (for residents) in England and Wales in 2010 was 196,109.

Further information about the issues raised can be found at:www.righttoknow.org.uk

The Right to Know Campaign was formed to support an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill to ensure that women considering an abortion would be guaranteed access to independent information and advice from someone who had no vested financial interest in the outcome of their decision. We are pleased that the subject of independent abortion counselling is now to be subject to a government consultation.

 
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