The Pause programme provides support for vulnerable women who have had children taken into care. In exchange for accepting a Long Acting Reversible Contracetive (LARC) method, such as a copper/hormonal coil or implant, women receive intensive emotional and practical support to develop new life skills, including help with housing and fulfilling educational and career aspirations. The project has been granted £7m to support more women, and reportedly aims to pilot a pre-emptive scheme for women leaving care (who have not had children taken into care themselves).
A bpas spokesperson said:
“bpas regularly sees women who are struggling to make a decision about their pregnancy when they know there is a high risk the child will be removed from them. We welcome funds to provide more emotional and practical support to women in these most challenging of circumstances, who have often been dealt an extremely poor hand when it comes to life chances. However we absolutely and categorically oppose help for vulnerable women being contingent on them accepting a specific form of contraception. We know that women are refused access to support or indeed asked to leave the Pause programme if they refuse to have an IUD or implant inserted. Help should not be withheld on this basis. There are many reasons why these methods will not be acceptable to some women and to make them mandatory further undermines the autonomy of a group of women who already have little control over their lives. Suggestions that this scheme will also be rolled out pre-emptively among women who have not had children removed but “fit the profile” is deeply concerning. The Pause programme raises ethical issues that need to be engaged with, and we would do well to ourselves pause and reflect before it is rolled out any further.”
bpas is a charity which sees more than 70,000 women a year and provides reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. More information can be found at bpas.org.