Recordings of talks given by the anti-abortion group, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) have revealed that the group seriously misinforms parents, pupils and staff about the effects of abortion, and the nature of Sex and Relationships Education (SRE). SPUC school speakers have falsely linked abortion to breast cancer and ‘post-abortion trauma’ (which is not a recognised medical condition). The British Humanist Association (BHA) and Education For Choice (EFC) have called on schools to stop inviting speakers in from organisations whose literature and presentations are riddled with misinformation, and on the government to take immediate steps to prevent such groups having access to children in schools.
Members of local humanist groups attended talks given to parents in Milton Keynes, Wakefield and Bournemouth, and more recently, members of Feminist Action Cambridge (FAC) were able to attend a talk given to secondary pupils in a school. The meetings in Milton Keynes and Cambridge were recorded.
SPUC’s talk to pupils focuses on the supposed harms of abortion. EFC has previously obtained SPUC’s 2008 PowerPoint presentation, which included graphic images of aborted foetuses and misinformation relating to pregnancy, contraception and abortion. The presentation FAC saw last month has been updated, although some of the fictions exposed then are still being repeated now, four years later. Claims presented include:
- The morning after pill ‘can cause an early abortion’ and may be damaging to women’s health and future fertility – but legally and medically, emergency hormonal contraception does not end an established pregnancy and is therefore not the same as abortion. There are no serious or long-term health problems associated with taking emergency contraception.
- Abortion increases a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer – but Cancer Research UK explain that ‘pregnancies that end in an abortion do not increase a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer later in life’.
- Abortion can lead to ‘suicidal tendencies’ ‘depression’ ‘drug and alcohol abuse’ – all symptoms of ‘post abortion trauma’ – ‘Post Abortion Trauma’ is an invented condition and is not recognised by the medical profession. The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges’ report, ‘Induced Abortion and Mental Health’ explains that ‘The rates of mental health problems for women with an unwanted pregnancy were the same whether they had an abortion or gave birth’.
Young people witnessing such presentations are subjected not only to misinformation but a stigmatising and at times distressing portrayal of a safe, legal medical procedure which a third of women in the UK will experience.
Paradoxically, SPUC’s own ‘Safe at School’ campaign opposes what it calls the ‘explicit nature of sex education in schools’, addressing parents across the country about the perceived harms of SRE. SPUC courted controversy last year when it held an event for parents in Tower Hamlets jointly with a number of other groups, including SREIslamic, under its ‘Safe at School’ banner. The meetings attended by local humanists focussed on generating fear amongst parents about the contents of their child’s SRE teaching, and informing them how to withdraw their children from SRE. Parents were also told that the government is considering introducing compulsory sex education (which it is not), and that they should write to their MP in opposition to this.
BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson said: ‘It is deeply disturbing that anti-choice groups are so easily able to enter schools and present these damaging fictions, and that they are fear-mongering with parents, again through the spreading of stories which are untrue. Parents and teachers should be aware of the falsehood of the claims made by SPUC, and the government should be more pro-active in preventing groups that persistently make false claims of this nature from having access to vulnerable children, especially in schools.’
EFC’s Laura Hurley said: ‘Exposing pupils to presentations that misinform them and cause them distress goes against all good educational practice and is an abdication of schools’ pastoral duty of care. It is time that schools took responsibility for providing good quality, evidence-based education about abortion themselves and stopped their reliance on a range of outside agencies whose educational provision does not meet the basic standards which would be required in delivery of any other subject.’
For further comment or information contact BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson on 07534 258596 or at firstname.lastname@example.org, or EFC Senior Project Worker Laura Hurley on 0207 284 6040 or at email@example.com.
Read the reports from Milton Keynes, Wakefield, Bournemouth and Cambridge, the leaflet given out by SPUC to parents, and Education for Choice’s analysis of the claims presented: https://humanists.uk/wp-content/uploads/spuc-school-talks-supporting-materials.pdf
Read the Guardian report, Revealed: what children are being told about abortion, which appeared on page 1 on 23 March 2012: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/23/abortion-what-children-schools
Read more about SPUC’s ‘Safe at School’ Campaign: http://www.spuc.org.uk/campaigns/safeatschool/
Read more about the British Humanist Association’s work on Sex and Relationships Education: https://humanists.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/sex-and-relationships-education
Read EFC’s blog posts relating to anti-choice groups in schools: http://educationforchoice.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/safe-at-school-abortion-education.html
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.
Education For Choice is now a project within Brook, the young people’s sexual health charity. It is committed to ensuring young people receive evidence-based information and impartial support on pregnancy and abortion.