Voice for Choice, the UK’s national coalition of pro-choice campaigning organisations, believe that women and couples have the right to high quality information about pregnancy in order to support them in their decision making.
Although we welcome the Nuffield Council on Bioethics’ recommendation that non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) be included in NHS screening for Down’s, Edwards and Patau’s, we are concerned that the report calls for women to be denied information on the sex of their fetus, in case it leads to an increased number of sex selective abortions. This gives credence to the idea that sex selective abortions take place in the UK, when there is no evidence for this. In 2015 the Department of Health ‘found no substantiated concerns of gender abortions occurring in England, Wales and Scotland’, including within the ‘specific cultural communities’ referenced by Nuffield’s report. Restricting access to information in pregnancy does nothing to redress gender inequality, but promotes the idea that women are not to be trusted to make decisions about their reproductive futures.
Furthermore, the report does not make reference to global political climate, in which abortion rights and reproductive choice are under attack. This is happening in the UK; Lord Shinkwin’s Private Member’s Bill, which is referenced in the report, seeks to add additional limits to the 1967 Abortion Act. If successful, the Bill would mean that parents would no longer have the option to end a pregnancy after 24 weeks when faced with a serious antenatal diagnosis, including those cases where there is no realistic possibility of a pregnancy resulting in the baby surviving after birth. This would be incredibly difficult for those prospective parents having to make life-changing decisions about what an antenatal diagnosis means to them and their future child.
We are also disappointed about the suggestion that one of our members, Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC), may provide biased information. ARC are clear that they support expectant parents to make the choice that is right for them and we support them in this aim."
Alliance for Choice is a member of Voice for Choice
This statement was made in response to the sensationalised reporting of the Nuffield report in the media, see below:
the following reports in the media: