The draft guidance on “what women need to know” will offer the advice that an abortion is generally safer than continuing a pregnancy to term, and that most women who have abortions do not suffer any long-term psychological trauma.
Yet the research has been strongly criticised, not least because two of the 18 who provided the research represent abortion clinics, yet, allegedly, not one psychiatrist was consulted.
Critics have called on the RCOG to provide hard evidence to back up their claims, adding that many complications caused by abortion are recorded in accident and emergency records and other statistics, and are thus missing from the official count.
Leaving personal feelings aside (as far as possible) for the moment, it would be hard to disagree that carrying a pregnancy to full term has the potential for more physical complications than aborting within the early weeks. Yet it seems that the psychological impact has been glossed over.
The RCOG claims that “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.”
Dr Peter Saunders, from the Christian Medical Fellowship, spelled it out in no uncertain terms.
“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.”
Former GP and lecturer in medical ethics at St Mary’s University College, Trevor Stammers, said that the RCOG had ignored one of the most authoritative studies into the psychiatric effects of abortion.
“When [the RCOG] can’t refute the evidence, they have just ignored it. This is an absolutely disgraceful stitch up that they have forced through quickly.”
Many have branded these guidelines an absurdly liberal agenda.
Bringing arguments about abortion to the surface again aren’t helpful, but the least we can expect is that comprehensive evidence-based advice is being given to those medical professionals offering advice to women at an often highly vulnerable and stressful time.
What do you think? Are these guidelines helpful, and should they be implemented, or do they unfairly promote abortion over childbirth?