In response to Maria Caulfield's latest comments on abortion, bpas Director of External Affairs Clare Murphy said,
“It seems extraordinary that a nurse who claims she is interested in “evidence-based laws” can be so profoundly uninterested in truth or fact. Babies born at “18, 19 weeks” weeks do not survive, as she implies. Babies born as early as 22 weeks have poor survival chances and those that do live are at risk of severe disability. Yet there should be no contradiction between doing all we can to improve the survival rates of infants born at the cusp of viability – and celebrating those advances - and ensuring the small number of women who need to end a pregnancy at that gestation can do so. It is Maria Caulfield’s utter lack of interest in why a woman may need to make that choice that is so disappointing, as a politician who has been appointed by her party as vice-chair for women. Who are these women? They may be young girls who have been too scared to confide in anyone about a pregnancy; they may be women who have been using effective methods of contraception like the implant which can alter bleeding patterns and cause breast tenderness, so women do not suspect they are pregnant. They are women with medical conditions for whom the pregnancy is posing a risk to their health. They are women whose lives have been turned upside down by domestic abuse, job losses, evictions, who no longer feel it is right to carry a pregnancy to term. We would be happy to explain to Maria Caulfield in depth as to why women need the services they do, should she ever think to ask. It is also entirely disingenuous of her to suggest that she opposes the decriminalisation of abortion because the 1967 Abortion Act “protects” vulnerable women from being pressured by partners into abortions they do not want. She should know full well as a healthcare professional that safeguarding, access to counselling services, and ensuring that any patient is making their own choice free from co-ercion are fundamental principles of medical care that would exist were abortion decriminalised. It is simply wrong that in 2018 abortion remains governed by a criminal framework that threatens any woman who ends her own pregnancy without the permission of 2 doctors with life in prison. We would hope that wherever we stand on abortion, we could agree that the criminalisation of women and their bodies is no basis for laws in the 21st Century.”
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Notes to Editors:
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.