Government leaning dangerously towards anti-abortion groups

We must not underestimate the news that the government has appointed anti-abortion group Life to their advisory group on sexual health, writes shadow health minister Diane Abbott.

Diane Abbott MP (Labour, Hackney North and Stoke Newington) is the shadow health minister

We must not underestimate the chilling news that the government has appointed anti-abortion group Life to their expert advisory group on sexual health. This appointment, coupled with the retraction of an invite to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), one of the UK’s leading abortion providers, signals a dangerous move.

Has Anne Milton, the public health minister, bowed to pressure from the activists at Life or are we seeing the government moving away from the pro-choice agenda long favoured by our society?

This news has broken in the same week that Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, pledged his support for the newly-formed ‘Sex and Relationships Education Council’ whose founding members include a deadly medley of abstinence promoters and anti-abortionists including Life, Silver Ring Thing, and the Family Education Trust.

Back at the Department of Health, the members of its sexual health forum have until now included some of the UK’s best sexual health professionals, experts in their field, who have a track record of delivering and commissioning the highest levels of care.

They have built their work on evidence and provided a pro-choice agenda, giving individuals and couples the information and services to make an informed choice about their bodies, their sexual health, contraception and pregnancy.

The members of the sexual health forum have not sought to promote one agenda but to work with ministers to promote good sexual health through choice, prioritising the key issues and responding to society’s complex lives.

The same cannot be said of Life. This is the group that not only opposes abortion under any circumstances, but also opposes contraception. That stance alone speaks volumes.

Any medical professional who is serious about reducing rates of unwanted pregnancy and subsequent abortion knows that controlling fertility depends on modern methods of contraception – and that is a basic human right.

What’s more, Life’s response to birth control is encompassed in a single word. Abstinence. And we all know how unsuccessful those programmes have been in the USA, resulting in higher rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections than in groups using normal, modern, 21st-century methods of family planning.

Life has perpetrated many scare stories and has even questioned the value of condoms, stating they do not protect against sexually transmitted infections including HIV. Even if pressed, Life would not support condom use.

Anti-abortionists, including members of Life, can be seen on a daily basis outside the UK’s abortion clinics, shouting abuse at women going inside and displaying grotesque posters of mutilated foetuses of an advanced gestation. They have no qualms about totally distorting the reality of abortions, 91 per cent of which were carried out at less than 13 weeks’ gestation last year

We will monitor and oppose any attempts by the government to erode or undermine this country’s sexual health professionalism and expertise and I have called for Life’s appointment to the sexual health forum to be retracted.

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35 Responses to “Government leaning dangerously towards anti-abortion groups”

  1. John Davies

    Government leaning dangerously towards anti-abortion groups: by shadow health minister @HackneyAbbott

  2. The F-Word

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government leaning dangerously towards anti-abortion groups: by shadow health minister @HackneyAbbott

  3. Double.Karma

    Government leaning dangerously towards anti-abortion groups: by shadow health minister @HackneyAbbott

  4. Tamsin

    Government leaning dangerously towards anti-abortion groups | @HackneyAbbott ht @TheRightArticle #prochoice #feminism

  5. Vivian Broutsos

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government leaning dangerously towards anti-abortion groups: by shadow health minister @HackneyAbbott

  6. Simon Lewis

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government leaning dangerously towards anti-abortion groups

  7. MJS

    Government leaning dangerously towards anti-abortion groups: by shadow health minister @HackneyAbbott

  8. Kris Allan

    Government leaning dangerously towards anti-abortion groups: This appointment, coupled with the retraction of an…

  9. Health Fit2Day

    Government leaning dangerously towards anti-abortion groups

  10. Stephen W

    “Chilling News”. Please spare us the hyperbole. The advisory group will still be dominated 90% by groups that support contraception and abortion in line with the general social consensus. The fact that one group that opposes abortion and contraception is being asked for advice is hardly the end of the world.

  11. Sioned-Mair Richards

    It is a move in the wrong direction. An attempt to go back to the fifties where abstinence was the expectation and look what happened. Girls still got pregnant, but were “shamed” and either made to get married or give up their child for adoption. A trauma for both parties. We know that the Silver Ring Mvt doesn’t work. Look at Bristol Palin if you need evidence. We have Nadine Dorries saying that this needs to be targeted at girls (nothing about boys abstaining or not pressuring girls)So women are expected to be the keepers of “morality”, men are clearly not mature enough to control those natural urges. Where LIFE gets a toehold, others will follow. All part of an un-progressive agenda.

  12. TheWebspot Government leaning dangerously towards anti-abortion groups Pregnancy Miracle

  13. Deborah Segalini

    RT @leftfootfwd: < by @HackneyAbbott

  14. Naadir Jeewa

    Reading: Government leaning dangerously towards anti-abortion groups:
    Diane Abbott MP (Labour, Hackney North an…

  15. Lorraine

    @Stephen W
    It certainly is chilling news considering Nadine Dorries’ viewpoints which seems to be greatly supported by many in parliament. From the press release: The founding members of the Council are: evaluate, Lovewise, Challenge Teams, LIFE, Silver Ring Thing, Family Education Trust and Right to Life.
    As far as i know 100% of those groups are anti-abortion and most believe in teaching abstinence until marriage.
    The British Pregnancy Advisory Service which provides most women information and access to abortion, if that is the choice they make was apparently ‘uninvited’. That seems particularly concerning to me

  16. 13eastie

    What is so wrong with the Govt choosing to seek advice from a balanced selection of advisors, and hearing more than one opinion before making policy decisions?

    The alternative would be to disqualify any advice that does not conform to your existing prejudices.

    “West Indian mums will go to the wall for their [non-terminated] children”

  17. Angela Phillips

    The main result of this will be that the advisory group will be unable to do anything at all. Life has views that are so radically different from any of the other organisations involved that it is hard to imagine any kind of dialogue. Maybe thats what the Conservative want – a talking shop that can’t talk.

  18. B Tank

    Abortion is sickening. It in wrong, unhuman, savage and a heartless cruel barbaric act to kill and destroy an innocent unborn and deprive of an existence and live in this world wether that is foetus couple of weeks or more.
    Everything that has life endures and feels pain. Be it few weeks old or not.
    Just because it cannot communicate does not mean one can eliminate at their will.

    Please accept my sincere apology to those who agree to abortion. I totally disagree to abortion. If you cannot create a life, why on earth destroy it.

  19. Stephen W

    What as opposed to a talking shop with strictly only one opinion? Is that the kind of conversation you prefer?


    Yes, those views are supported by some people in parliament and quite a lot of people in the country. Should their views be completely suppressed because you don’t like them? The clear fact is they will be one voice among several. I see no point to have an advisory group that deliberately excludes anyone who does not share the majority opinion.

  20. Shamik Das

    Debate on the government's closeness to anti-abortionists on @BBCNewsnight 2nite; read @HackneyAbbott's article for us:

  21. Lynda B

    I finfd Iam very torn on the issue. On the one hand I believe women should be able to decide what they want do with their bodies -on the other hand, I firmly believe that if there must be abortion, then for goodness sake, reduce the period in which an abortion can take place. Children are being aborted at far too late a stage, and this is inhumane.

    One thing I would add, women deciding what to do with their bodies, should include doing everything we can to avoid unwanted pregnancy.

  22. Margaret S

    I find your choice of vocabulary most disturbing. ‘Dangerously leaning’, ‘deadly medley’? Are these the words of someone without an agenda? I think not. A range of views should be represented! You talk of a pro-choice majority but yet it is would seem that the ‘leaning’ is most definitely towards pro-abortion not pro-choice. As a teacher I am very worried about the world that children I teach will enter. Everything seems geared to making them sexual at a much younger age with the fall back on abortion if things go wrong. Perhaps we want to move towards a society where promiscuity at a younger age is not acceptable and perhaps a wider range views on a sexual health forum might make a welcome change from having a focus on top class medical services for those who seek an abortion. I am pro-choice but feel increasingly uncomfortable with our wholesale acceptance of abortion. Something has to change, somehow. Let’s try to look at things differently for the sake of our children… ALL our children. Please.

  23. Shelle Fenton

    Kids are becoming sexual when they are ready. Same as they always have, and always will. I was sexual at 14, as were my children. Basically when the hormones that permit it kick in.
    Imagine a world, where contraception is banned for a minute. Like it used to be. Did that stop sex? no, just more unplanned pregnancies.
    I fear that anti abortion lobbyists, maybe getting in the back door.
    Im for contraception to ANYONE at ANY age to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
    Im not arrogant enough to presume i get to have a say in other peoples sex lives. Just mine. And i want choice.
    Then, im also pro choice, regarding terminations.

  24. Daniel Weichman

    Government leaning dangerously towards anti-abortion groups | @HackneyAbbott ht @TheRightArticle #prochoice #feminism

  25. Shelly Asquith

    Government leaning dangerously towards anti-abortion groups: by shadow health minister @HackneyAbbott

  26. damon brown

    The overwhelming body of evidence from around the globe proves that open and intelligent education on sexual health and relationships reduces STD’s, early pregnancies and secondary to that, termination of unplanned pregnancy.
    Teaching self and mutual respect to all children supports the healthy development of sexual awareness in all adults. Abstinence education increases STD’s, early sexual encounters and secondary to that termination of unwanted pregnancy.
    Perhaps we should be opening our own minds and supporting each new generation to have a better attitude to sex than we did, thereby reducing the tendency for men/boys to believe they are entitled to sex with no consequences and for girls/women to carry the moral responsibility for the sex, the STD’s the pregnancy and either parenting or termination – all of which the women/girls will be judged, insulted and abused for.

    Finally, the availability of termination services on the NHS is despite its best efforts, not top class. It is geographically variable, dependent on the attitude of the first GP medical professional the women/girl makes contact with and so difficult in some places as to actively prevent access to early termination for some. Any changes to the availability window fail to take into account these institutional issues, none of which will be improved by cuts to frontline services and the handing of all controlling power to GP’s.

    This leaning away from intelligent education in government flies in the face of all known medical statistics about sexual education, sexual health and access to services. That is the worrying aspect, the intentional deaf ear given to all the knowledge that is out there for the world to see and learn from. It the equivalent of sticking their fingers in their ears and singing tra-la-la. And it is chilling.

  27. Mr. Sensible

    Read about this in the paper yesterday, Diane.

    The Department of Health hardly needed any more negative headlines did it.

    This to add to Nadine Dories’s proposals…

    Yes, Lorraine, concerning. This doesn’t mean we’ll get a change to abortion legislation does it?

  28. J-P

    @B-Tank “verything that has life endures and feels pain. Be it few weeks old or not” I take it you’re a vegan, then? Since animals feel pain. Oh wait, fruit and vegetables are living things too. I think it’s more cruel to bring a child in the world that is unwanted, unloved, resented, that the parents cannot support. Pregnancy and giving birth is a traumatic experience, it tears you limb from limb and many women still die each year in childbirth. Abortion is not ideal but neither are the alternatives.

  29. Lorraine

    @ Stephen
    I have no problem with a range of views being heard, whether I agree with them or not. My point was the advisory group is not made up of a range of views.

  30. Rog

    I know that you already mentioned the issue of “Life” being on the new NHS forum, but I think there is a larger issue with this new The Sex and Relationships Education Council, set up by Michael Gove to advise on sex education in schools. See:

    The founding members of the Council are: evaluate, Lovewise, Challenge Teams, LIFE, Silver Ring Thing, Family Education Trust and Right to Life.

    EVALUATE – “evaluate teams empower children and young people from age 9 through to 18 to make healthy informed decisions, build self-esteem, and support them in delaying sexual experience until a long-term committed exclusive relationship”

    LoveWise – “warn young people to avoid the important medical consequences of sex outside marriage, they developed presentations that encourage them to consider the God-given design of marriage and the rightness and benefits of keeping sex for marriage”

    Challenge Teams – “Saving sex for marriage is a lifestyle of sexual self-control and respect. There can (be)…consequences…unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and diseases, loss of self-respect, embarrassment, anxiety, regret, etc”

    LIFE – “The most important and influential part of LIFE’s ethos is our opposition to all abortion on principle”

    Silver Ring Thing – “Silver Ring Thing promotes the message of abstinence until marriage centered in a relationship with Jesus Christ”

    Family Education Trust – “we believe that public policy should support the traditional family. Unfortunately, the view (is) that people should be free to make their own choices”

    Right to Life – “Right to Life is a political lobby group defending the right to life from conception to natural death…campaigning against the production of human embryos, hybrid (animal/human) embryos, saviour siblings…”

    I hope that you would agree that the methods and ideals of these groups range from the ineffectual to the abhorrent, risking damaging a generation of children both physically and mentally; moreover this action represents the creeping influence of religion in public life invited by the new government – would a call to arms, in the form of a protest be out of the question?

    Also from yesterday in the lords:

    “Schools minister Nick Gibb has been forced to defend the government’s decision not to include personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) in its wider review of the curriculum after facing criticism from a group of peers.”; Hmmm, I wonder why they are doing this internal review first? Could it be because they want to give this new SRE Council the time to do it’s insidious work in the dark? Slip it in through the back door, so to speak?

    And where are the Lib Dems in all of this this? Can you please ask them for me Diane?


  31. Pucci Dellanno

    Government leaning dangerously towards anti-abortion groups: by shadow health minister @HackneyAbbott

  32. Margaret S

    @ J-P
    Being a parent can be very traumatic at many times during children lives but you accept responsibility as a parent to provide and care for them as best you can even though they may ultimately throw it back in your face or ruin your life. How is that so very different from being a prospective parent? You can’t do anything about your children when they might cause you pain as they grow into adults so why should we be so quick to resort to eradicating the ‘problem’ before it is even born. Incidentally comparing a foetus to an animal or carrot is ridiculous! Sex eduxation is currently wholly inadequate at present as it tends to address the mechanics of sex rather than the development of relationships. If it was working we wouldn’t be the European capital of both abortion and teenage pregnancy. If that doesn’t tell us that we need to look at things differently then what will?

  33. London IWW

    Government leaning dangerously towards anti-abortion groups | #SaveTheNHS #NHS #KeepOurNHSpublic

  34. i♥purity SarahCarter

    Two VERY exciting developments in one article!

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