Friday, 24 June 2011

BPAS and Marie Stopes: The Reality Behind the Rhetoric

Today,  and over the next few posts, let’s take a look at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) and Marie Stopes International (MSI). We can begin with a brief consideration of their claims regarding the counselling services they provide, and those of Pro-Life organisations.

For a start, BPAS should change its name. It does not ‘advise’ on pregnancy any more than the Mafia advises on “how to grow old gracefully”. It tells you how to get an abortion and where – largely directing you to the nearest BPAS or other abortion related service and almost nowhere else. Moreover, they tell you that their advice is non-directional, at the same time leaving out half the story – all the uncomfortable bits that might put women off the abortion.

They claim that pro-life counsellors lie about any possible sequelae following abortion, including psychological and physical, such as damage to the cervix leading to prematurity in a subsequent pregnancy, infection resulting in infertility, scarring of the lining of the womb which can cause subsequent prematurity, and the possible long-term increased risk of breast cancer. There is an abundance of evidence – but all is denied by pro-abortion groups such as BPAS and Marie Stopes International.

Both organisations also put forward the dream-scene that they do not encourage abortion. They put forward the facts, they say, so that women can make their choice... what is “right for them”!

Among others, I called Margaret Cuthill, who runs ARCH (Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline) to get an update on girls who call them for help and support following an abortion. Margaret has quite a personal history. She had two abortions and understands how women feel when faced with an unplanned pregnancy they definitely do not want... and what they experience after an abortion. She also understands how they feel after giving birth to a baby who was “unplanned”.

Her second abortion involved twins – when they killed one and accidentally left the other, a little girl, whom she named Pamela. It was when she saw the scan of Pamela that Margaret rejected the offer of another abortion to clear up the “problem”. It was also then that she fully realised exactly what abortion involved; “it” was not a “blob” (or some equivalent) as counsellors assured her and as they still assure women today.

Pamela (see right, on her Wedding Day, with Margaret) was most definitely an “abortion survivor”. She and Margaret had to face many difficulties and together they worked to overcome the abortion trauma from which they both suffered.

It is a well-known fact that the death of a twin, even in early pregnancy  whether from natural causes or by abortion  can have a devastating effect on the survivor. It can cause serious psychological problems including unresolved grieving. There is also a 20 per cent increase in the risk of cerebral palsy. For more information on this issue, see The Psychology of Twinship by Ricardo Ainslie – (preferably 1st edition – University of Nebraska Pres: Lincoln and London; 1985 or 2nd edition Northvale, New Jersey, U.S.A. Jason Aronson Inc.; 1997). See also The Lone Twin: Understanding Twin Bereavement and Loss by Joan Woodward (Free Association Books LTD; 1998), The Grief Recovery Handbook: The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death Divorce, and Other Losses by John W. James and Russell Friedman (Harper Paperbacks; 1998), “Lonesome Crowd: Loss of a Twin”, Chapter 9 from Entwined Lives: Twins and What They Tell Us About Human Behavior  by Dr. Nancy Segal (Plume; 2000), and Living Without Your Twin by Betty Jean Case (Tibbutt Publishing Company, Inc, Portland, OR; 2001).

Margaret has been counselling girls suffering from post abortion problems for over twenty years now. When I asked about the latest image of their counselling put forward by BPAS and MSI, she subsequently wrote to me saying, “... of the women who come to ARCH for one-to-one counselling or those who phone the helpline for support, ALL say they did not receive any explorative counselling to identify their problems... to go into their personal emotional history... why they wanted an abortion... information on other options available to them than abortion...  as well as the many other aspects which should be discussed.

She wrote further: “Very recently I spoke to a woman on the ARCH Helpline who had been ‘counselled’ over the phone. She said they asked brief questions, the first being can you cope? She said ‘no’ and they then spoke about the abortion, what methods she could have and what would be the quickest. Of course it was the medical abortion, so from telephone call to abortion it was only a matter of days and she couldn’t believe it was over... and then questioned herself, ‘What have I done?’”

Yet, BPAS claims: “… the charity does not exist to encourage abortion as LIFE encourages motherhood; BPAS exists to promote and enable a women’s choice. It’s all a matter of providing the information, and the space, to allow her to make the decision that is right for her at this time.”

How they must wish we all suffered from amnesia! 

I can assure you that when BPAS was launched they made it abundantly clear that their aim was to promote the availability of abortion to girls. It was unlawful (as it is still) for clinics to advertise to the public – so BPAS was set up “as a charity counselling service” to fill the gap. If abortion clinics had been able to advertise to the public, there would have been no need for BPAS – and very soon BPAS set up their own clinics so they could do the abortions for women who came.

Moreover, if today we offered prizes to girls for their stories, I do not think my front door would be broken down by girls or students clutching babies to their bosoms (or with good-sized bumps in front) to tell us how they had gone ahead with the pregnancy, taken their GCSE or degree, all because the counsellors from BPAS or Marie Stopes had told them how to arrange  for special tutorials or how to obtain grants... or housing... or which pregnancy advisory services (I mean real pregnancy advisory services) would provide the best layette. (Wouldn’t it be just too lovely to see BPAS referring girls to the Cardinal Winning Initiative so they could be guaranteed help and support!)

Instead they deride pro-life counselling services (no matter how impartial) claiming – as they have about LIFE – that “they tell lurid stories, show terrifying films about abortion” which is quite incorrect. As I have said before, LIFE in fact provides quality Relationship and Sexual Education, in addition to its work supplying BAPC-accredited non-directional counselling for women in crisis pregnancy and post-abortion, amongst a host of other services.

However, what BPAS and MSI most certainly do not do is to explain to girls – even if they ask about the development of the human foetus – the simple straightforward biological facts. And from my own experience (and from the experience of the many other people I know helping women through their distress after an abortion – sometimes many years afterwards) the fact which causes them the greatest grief is recognising the humanity of the infant they had aborted. Sometimes the realisation strikes them when they are expecting another child, sometimes it develops after seeing pictures, sometimes it is when they are unable to conceive or carry another child to term, sometimes there is simply no knowing what causes them to think of the child they felt they could not keep.