By Hilary White
LONDON, August 26, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Crisis pregnancy centres, as well as doctors, nurses and midwives, may be subject to prosecution and a two-year jail sentence if they convince a woman to forego an abortion. Under a proposed amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, those groups advertising services to pregnant women who provide “false information” or even information that is “factually correct” that convinces a woman to change her mind about abortion, will have committed an offense.
Tabled by one of David Cameron’s Tory MPs, John Bercow, the amendment says, “It shall be an offence to deliberately mislead through advertising in relation to the termination of pregnancy and alternatives thereto.” Bercow has recently gone on record in support of an effort to bring explicit “sex-education” to six-year-old children in mandatory school curriculums.
The amendment continues, “Any person, association or body corporate shall be guilty of an offence” if they provide “material which … contains false information and is untruthful … or in its overall presentation deceives or is in any way likely to deceive the average person…even if the information is factually correct”.
An offense will have been committed if the information given “causes or is likely to cause the average pregnant woman to take a decision in relation to the termination of her pregnancy she would not have taken otherwise.”
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children said that while no one could argue against a law prohibiting false advertising, the amendment is a targeted blow against the pro-life movement in Britain. SPUC believes it may specifically be a backlash against their information pamphlet “Abortion – Your Right to Know” which “several hundred GPs now carry in their surgeries”.
Groups that may be affected include the Good Counsel Network, a London women’s centre that advertises in the same places as the abortionists and pray for many “clients” to come to them. Another is a small group of sisters, the Sisters of the Gospel of Life, founded in the diocese of Glasgow in 1997 by the late Cardinal Winning, who provide a range of services for women in unexpected pregnancies.
Among the most familiar tactics of the abortion lobby is the accusation that crisis pregnancy centres (CPC) “lure” in pregnant women with false or misleading information refuting the assertion that an unborn child is nothing more than a “blob of cells” or “tissue”. Planned Parenthood’s Teenwire website says, “It’s common for CPCs to use misleading films, ultrasound pictures, and written materials to scare and emotionally manipulate women into continuing their pregnancies.”
“By presenting women with false information about abortion and the development of the fetus, CPCs threaten women’s abilities to make informed choices.”
John Smeaton, director of SPUC, responded saying, “It is ironic to see pro-life organisations being accused of inaccuracy by an organisation which claims on its website that the unborn child does not become a baby until birth.” Smeaton warns that it is the word “lured” that is “most insidious, implying criminal activity, manipulation and entirely sinister motives.”
In a briefing on the HFE bill, SPUC says that Bercow’s amendment may be aimed at the Brighton counselling centre that advertises abortion counselling, but doesn’t provide abortion, and “may be costing trade” for BPAS, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, one of Britain’s largest government-funded abortionist groups.
SPUC points out that the amendment cuts both ways, with abortionist groups such as BPAS charging either the public or the NHS for their “services”. “In terms of termination of pregnancy services, women should also be informed if a counselling service has a financial interest in providing pregnancy termination services.