US donors help advance anti-abortion programs in UK schools
PHOTO: Guy Smallman/Getty Images
An anti-abortion group in the UK that lectures schoolchildren and healthcare professionals on what it calls ‘forced abortion’ receives tens of thousands of dollars from anonymous US-based donors , can reveal VICE World News.
Almost £73,000 ($91,885, €85,330) has been donated anonymously through a donor agency called NPT Transatlantic over the past two years to the registered charity of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child ( SPUC), one of the most active anti-abortion organizations in the UK. groups. The agency allows American and British taxpayers to make donations to organizations across the Atlantic without revealing their name and without benefiting from any tax deduction.
It is believed to be the first time that such a donation – from a US donor to a UK anti-abortion group – has come to light.
Although experts are aware that the funding may have been going on for some time, many groups have set up private companies or processed grants through fictitious charities in order to hide where the money is coming from or going. , or support has been targeted at providing resources for individuals, such as the organizer of a recent anti-abortion demonstration outside a Scottish abortion clinic.
In his accounts, SPUC said it used the funding to teach elementary school children about development in the womb and to organize a conference “aimed at doctors to help them understand the telltale signs of coercive control by partners, sex traffickers, parents, etc. who can force a woman/girl to have an abortion against her will” and to “train doctors to recognize and prevent cases of forced abortion”.
Rachael Clarke of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said the funding was “deliberately obfuscated and murky” and the group’s agenda “dangerously blurs the lines between value judgment and social and clinical reality”.
Ruth Wareham, education policy researcher at Humanists UK, said: “Any external organization offering relationship and sex education [RSE] in schools should do so in a factually accurate and balanced way, without using it as a vehicle to spread harmful and ideological anti-abortion messages.
“The fact that the SPUC is dishonestly trying to link its agenda to the very real issues of coercion, abuse and sex trafficking is particularly alarming. It also goes against government guidelines which state that CSR educational resources must be evidence-based and present solid facts and statistics.
Pam Lowe, a senior lecturer at Aston University who studies anti-abortion sentiment in the UK, says that in Britain ‘the overwhelming majority of anti-abortion campaigners are driven by conservative Christian beliefs’ where women are considered natural mothers, and that the high rate of abortions is explained by seeing “all abortions as the result of pressure and coercion. This can come directly from partners, friends or family members, or indirectly from cultural ideas.
“By exposing and supporting this alleged coercion, anti-abortion activists believe they will give women the space to recognize their natural maternal feelings and reject abortion.”
Although forced abortion does occur, experts believe organizations such as SPUC are falsely inflating the issue to persuade individuals to support an anti-abortion agenda. On its website, the information on forced abortion does not refer the research who stated that the findings in this area “do not support the claim that women are frequently coerced into abortion, but rather that they are more often coerced into continuing a pregnancy”.
The SPUC also appears to implicate what they call “do-it-yourself abortion” in its coercion papers, a term they use to describe telemedicine abortion. Also known as pills in the mail or home abortion, telemedicine abortion is widely supported by health organizations and gender-based violence charities – but often mislabeled by anti-abortion groups like “homemade abortion” to make it less safe.
Recent legislative changes regarding telemedicine abortion in England and Scotland have made the practice permanent after countries introduced it during the pandemic. The SPUC campaigned against this law change and announced a series of new initiatives in May, many of which appear to discuss this type of abortion.
In a Youtube video Posted on May 17, Emmet Dooley, SPUC education and outreach manager, says he has a new presentation on “DIY coercion and abortion,” in which he switches from talking about any form from coercion to a section on “how this sweeping change in abortion law was passed at the start of the COVID pandemic; what the reality of home abortion looks like. We read stories that made headlines and we hear of a brave girl who regrets her abortion.
Dr Jonathan Lord, consultant obstetrician and spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said: “We are concerned that some anti-choice organizations and websites are providing biased and incorrect information which will further stigmatize abortion and incite young people to believe that at home, early medical abortions are not safe.
“The UK Government has approved the permanent availability of telemedicine for early medical abortions, as there is ample evidence to show that this route to telemedicine is a safe and effective service that is preferred by women and allows women to access more quickly to abortion care.
“It is essential that relationships and sex education in schools provide factual, unbiased and evidence-based information about abortion care. All women and girls have the right to access non-judgmental abortion services as an essential health service.
The presentation is one of nine SPUC is giving in schools as part of its “Love and Responsibility” program, which also teaches young people that sex is something to be “saved through the virtue of chastity.” In-depth research demonstrated that comprehensive sex education delays sexual initiation and promotes safer sex practices more than abstinence-only education, which has also been shown to be effective. promoting sexist values.
In the same video, Dooley says these presentations have been delivered to 10% of Scottish schools and are now available in the UK. His Instagram account shows he spoke at schools last month in London, Plymouth and Birmingham.
In early May, SPUC also announced an “innovative new drama-based approach to key curriculum topics in Relationships and Sex Education, which respects and promotes pro-life values” called Life Voice.
On his website, he states that the dramas are based on six real testimonies regarding crisis pregnancy and abortion. Its head of creative, cultural and youth development Tom Rogers said in a press release“We have already delivered these sessions to over 1,000 students during our pilot period.”
In an email to a teacher obtained by VICE World News, Rogers said they would also send a piece to the Edinburgh Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival held annually in Scotland, on “coercion and sexting “. SPUC told VICE World News that all of Life Voice’s upcoming performances this summer and fall were about abortion, but the Edinburgh Fringe confirmed that the performance they listed in Life Voice also didn’t mention the word. .
Last month, SPUC also ran two days of talks with medical professionals in Edinburgh and London, where doctors heard from anti-abortion speakers, including a midwife who in 2014 lost a Supreme Court case who concluded that she and a colleague had no right to avoid supervising other nurses involved in abortion procedures.
“Anti-choice groups like to pretend they’re concerned about coercion, but the answer to reproductive coercion is more choice, fewer barriers, and stronger reproductive rights,” said Louise McCudden, Advocacy Advisor and public affairs at MSI Reproductive Choices. She added that 9 out of 10 people in the UK support the right to abortion.
“They deliberately use language that implies there is no support, protection or control. In fact, abortion is one of the most regulated areas of healthcare,” she said.
“SPUC makes no claim to impartiality and has sharing false information in the old days. The idea that this organization should be trusted to handle sensitive discussions with young people on complex topics is truly alarming.
McCudden added that the tactics used by anti-choice groups to attack abortion rights in the UK are often “cut and pasted” from the US. “Misinformation and feigned concern about young people are all textbook anti-choice measures in the United States.”
In a statement, SPUC Executive Director of Public Affairs and Legal Services, Michael Robinson, said: “We agree with the government that educational resources should be evidence-based and present facts. and solid statistics. So we follow that standard.
SPUC has not responded to further requests for comment regarding the transparency of its U.S. funding or says it links its program to other issues.
A spokesperson for NPT Transatlantic said: “NPT Transatlantic donors recommend grants that support a variety of organizations, all in good standing with the IRS or the Charity Commission of England and Wales (as applicable), which may be of different sides of a cause.
“NPT Transatlantic takes no position on the causes of our donor support, but we carefully follow strict due diligence procedures to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.”