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RCOG Smoke and Mirrors (Article by Nadine Dorries MP)

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The issue of abortion is an emotive one, which attracts ideologues on both sides of the argument.

The left feel so strongly pro-abortion, that campaign groups such as 'Voice for Choice' are Union funded and pro-life groups are run by people with a Christian ethos, rooted in biblical testimony.

One would hope, however, that professional bodies, such as the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), would not hold a firm position on either side of the argument and would pride themselves on remaining neutral - on both the ethical and ideological issues - and that they would concentrate solely on the substantive issues, such as foetal sentience and the physical effects and consequences of abortion.

The RCOG was charged by the previous government with the task of reviewing the 2004 guidelines regarding the care of a woman seeking an induced abortion.

Eighteen eminent members were formed into a working group to redraft the requested guidance, however, many doctors and professionals have been dismayed at the way the RCOG group has gone about its business.

The first point of concern is the group itself. Eleven of the group are abortionists, two are abortion clinic providers and one is a celebrity doctor.

You could be forgiven for thinking it's a bit like asking British American Tobacco to write a set of guidance on the risks of smoking.

The group has completely ignored the findings of a landmark study recently published in the British Journal of Psychiatry,  that women who abort are 30% more likely to develop mental health problems than those who don’t, and instead, has relied on a highly criticised review by the American Psychological Association.

They also make no mention of the fact that the Royal College of Psychiatry is currently carrying out a major review of the subject, the results of which are still awaited.

In publishing the draft report on their website, the RCOG forgot to tell stakeholders that the consultation period had begun and allowed only twenty working days for comment.

Government guidelines for public consultation are twelve weeks. As the RCOG guidelines will be the base of Government policy and two members of the group are from the Department of Health, one would have expected at least twelve weeks to have been adhered to and actually, as this is such an emotive subject with wide public interest and concern, any sensible person would have assumed an extension to 20 weeks - allowing all interested parties to contribute and for the appropriate level of public scrutiny of submissions to occur.

I was stunned to discover on the 17th of February that the closing date for submissions was the following day, the 18th.

As Parliament was to close for recess that day, I had literally hours to have that date reviewed and via a question on the floor of the House to Sir George Young, managed to have the date extended to the 25th.

This is still woefully inadequate and as a result, I will lay down an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill for the responsibility for drafting the guidelines to be removed from the RCOG and transferred to the cross party Health Select committee, of which I am a member.

This way, evidence can be taken from a wide variety of individuals, including Psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, midwives, and patients themselves.

The RCOG have let both themselves and women down by acting in such a hasty and self interested manner.

The very least members of the working group should have to do is declare their interests and state how much they earn from working in the abortion industry and where the money comes from.

Daylight is the best disinfectant. It’s time for the RCOG to move into this century and realise that operating in such a cloak and dagger manner is no longer acceptable. The public want to know what they are doing and why.

But more than that, the women they are purporting to help would like to know that the guidelines were drawn up with their best interests and welfare at heart. Unfortunately, there were interests at play, but not those of women seeking an induced abortion.


Nadine Dorries MP Blog