Women should be made fully aware of the psychological risks associated with abortions before they choose to have a termination, an MP has proposed.
The proposal was made by Therese Coffey, a Conservative MP, in an Early Day Motion (EDM) which she tabled earlier this month.
In the motion, which was based on advice issued by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2008, Dr Coffey warns that “informed consent must be on the basis of adequate and appropriate information on the potential risks to mental health associated with abortion”.
The Conservative MP also called on the Government to “give its full backing” to professional assessment and counselling where mental health issues are identified.
The EDM, which has now been signed by nine MPs, has been welcomed by pro-lifers.
Last week a ComRes poll, commissioned by the campaign group Christian Concern, revealed that the vast majority of people either vastly underestimate or don’t known the true number of abortions taking place in Britain.
During 2009 there were over 200,000 abortions, but last week’s poll revealed that just 3 per cent of the respondents correctly estimated that the number of abortions was between 150,000 and 250,000.
In 2008 the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) warned that having an abortion could damage a woman’s mental health and said that women should be told the risks before proceeding.
This move represented a significant shift in policy for the RCP. In 1994 it said that the mental health risks associated with abortion were far less than those incurred when an unwanted pregnancy was carried to term.
But following a review of evidence, the RCP changed its view and called for doctors who assess women for abortion to assess for mental disorder and for risk factors that may be associated with its subsequent development.
It also recommended that women considering an abortion should be given leaflets warning them of the associated mental health risks.