Clare Murphy, Director of External Affairs, said:
“The results of the government’s inquiry are sadly not surprising. At BPAS, we have spoken with many women who have been so traumatised by their experience of childbirth that they are considering ending what would otherwise be wanted pregnancies. Pain relief is sometimes treated as a “nice extra” rather than an integral part of maternity care, and women and their families can suffer profoundly as a result.
“NICE guidance is explicit that women’s choices must be respected, including having access to an epidural early on in labour if that is what she requests. Where this is not happening we need to understand why – staffing shortages may be an issue, but we also know women may experience gatekeeping by healthcare professionals and be told labour “is meant to be hard work”. This cannot be solved overnight. We therefore ask the Parliamentary-Under-Secretary to ensure that access to pain relief will feature prominently in the government’s work to improve maternity care, and that they meet with BPAS and other organisations to discuss how this important issue will be monitored going forward.”
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bpas is a charity which sees almost 100,000 women a year for reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. BPAS also runs the Centre for Reproductive Research and Communication, which seeks to develop and deliver a research agenda that furthers women’s access to evidence-based reproductive healthcare, driven by an understanding of women’s perspectives and needs. You can find out more here: https://www.bpas.org/get-involved/centre-for-reproductive-research-communication/