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bpas comment on Labour leadership contender Rebecca Long-Bailey's statements on abortion

A bpas spokesperson said:

"Many serious fetal anomalies are not diagnosed until the second trimester or beyond. Removing the ability for women in these extremely challenging circumstances to end a much-wanted pregnancy would deny them the time and space they need for further tests and counselling before they make their decision. It would force women to bring a child into the world when they do not think it is right to do so, and compel other women to give birth to a baby that they know will shortly die. These are extremely difficult decisions for women and their partners to make, and they deserve empathy and support.

"In 2018, only 289 terminations - 0.1% of all abortions performed in England and Wales - took place post-24 weeks of pregnancy. This incredibly small group represents women and their partners who are dealing with the most desperate and tragic of circumstances. Women's reasons for terminating a pregnancy on grounds of fetal anomaly include the effect on a woman's ability to care for her existing children; the feeling that it is cruel to have a child who will need constant medical intervention and may live in pain; or being unable to cope with continuing a pregnancy when they know that their baby will die shortly after birth. The heartbreaking reasons why a small number of women may need terminations for fetal anomaly are the reasons why it is important that such terminations can continue to be provided, in as sensitive and supportive a way as possible.

"There is no contradiction between working to create a more equal society for those with a disability and supporting women’s abilities to make the decisions that are right for them and their family in these desperate circumstances. Any suggestion that women who end a pregnancy in these situations do not value the lives of disabled people is deeply offensive.

"Aside from the comments regarding abortions for serious fetal anomaly, it appears that Rebecca Long-Bailey may not fully understand that there are a myriad of reasons why 1 in 3 women in this country will have a termination in their lifetimes. The majority of women who have abortions are already mothers, and are trying to do the best for the families they have. No contraception is perfect and women are frequently failed by their method at a time when they are simply not in a position to parent a child, or extend their existing family. We need our politicians to grasp the impact that the current criminal sanction on abortion has on doctors, nurses, and midwives who provide abortion care day in, day out, across the country. We would be pleased to invite Rebecca Long-Bailey to visit our clinic in Manchester so that she can better understand the support we provide to her constituents and the reasons why they need to access abortion services." 

 

ENDS

For more information, please call 07788 725 185 or email press@bpas.org 

Rebecca Long-Bailey's original statements on abortion can be found on pages 9 and 10 here

About bpas

bpas is a charity which sees nearly 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/