Friday 27 January 2012

Baby-saving pro-life counsellors are under threat, so let's focus on defending them from all quarters

Mothers in crisis need pro-life support
Last night on Newsnight Diane Abbott MP and Nadine Dorries MP (two political personalities about whose positions on abortion I have written about previously) were debating Ms Abbott's decision to leave a parliamentary group discussing abortion counselling.

There is a danger that the dust thrown up by the show-down between these ladies obscures the most important fact in this issue: pro-life counsellors, whose work saves lives, are under threat. The Department of Health, Mrs Dorries, Mrs Abbott and the advertising code-writers are all either considering or have already decided in favour of legal or quasi-legal restrictions on pro-life counsellors.

Last Saturday The Telegraph reported that one of the proposals being considered by the cross-party group set-up by the Department of Health is:
"for a system of 'voluntary registration'. This would would mean any organisation offering counselling to women with a crisis pregnancy would have to meet minimum standards, and only use appropriately-trained counsellors. A cross-party group of 10 MPs which has held secret talks over the proposals has become deeply divided about whether organisations running such services should be required to declare any ethical stance - such as holding pro-life beliefs."
How would such a “system” work in practice?

Firstly, it is likely to be the pro-abortion Department of Health, with advice from pro-abortion advisers, which would decide what constitutes "minimum standards" and who are "appropriately-trained counsellors".

Secondly, last night Mrs Dorries told Newsnight:
"I would like anybody with any kind of interest - whether financial or any other kind of interest -  in a woman's decision to abort, to declare that interest."
Kirsty Wark, the presenter, asked Mrs Dorries:
"And if you have independent counselling, do you want people who are independent counsellors to actually have to declare that they are actually against abortion or not?"
Mrs Dorries answered:
"Yes" ... "There should be no-one who is in a room with a woman in a crisis pregnancy who has any agenda whatsoever, be it religious or financial."
Some people think that such statements from Mrs Dorries are just clever tactics. If so, they are also dangerous tactics. With powerful and well-resourced opponents in the pro-abortion lobby, she is liable to be held to account for such statements.

And thirdly on 30 April, the following changes to the advertising code will come into effect:
The UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (rule 11.11.1): "Advertisements for services offering advice on unplanned pregnancy must make clear in the advertisement if the service does not refer women directly for a termination."
The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing Code (rule 12.24): "Marketing communications for services offering advice on unplanned pregnancy must make clear if the service does not refer women directly for a termination."
The requirements supported variously by the Department of Health, by Mrs Dorries and by the advertising code-writers come from the pro-abortion lobby, which wants to deter pregnant mothers undecided about abortion from contacting pro-life counsellors, and which wants pro-life counsellors effectively black-listed and black-balled.

So pro-lifers must not be distracted by the sparring of two headline-catching MPs - both of whom support legal abortion and its expansion. Rather, we must work to save lives by defending pro-life counsellors from the dictatorship of relativism.

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