A CENTRE which offers advice to pregnant women has defended itself after an undercover report found a counsellor linking abortion with breast cancer.
Life, a charity based in High Street, Oxford, was recorded by sexual health charity Brook telling a woman she would “be alone in a toilet” when she aborted the baby.
Oxford MPs have said women should be entitled to non-judgmental and evidence-based information when seeking advice, and East Oxford MP Andrew Smith has said he will ask the Secretary of State for Health to review these services.
In the recording, a counsellor for the pro-life group told a woman: “The only other thing that has been reported with quite strong evidence is the increase in the possibility of breast cancer following termination of pregnancy.”
Brook said Cancer Research UK had no evidence there was a link between the two, although LIFE said there is evidence.
The same counsellor also said: “It is possible that you will be on your own when you abort your baby, you know, possibly in the toilet, that’s what usually happens.”
Life spokeswoman Anne Scanlan said this was “ill-advised” but not necessarily untrue as women are generally not with medical professionals during the abortion.
She said counsellors should not be offering information about breast cancer risks without specific questions about it, saying: “If this counsellor was not asked about that and offered it up without prompt, then that is against our policy.
“We are investigating the incident and will take appropriate action.”
Mr Smith said: “Women who are seeking counselling should have a right to expect a high-quality service, with impartial advice and support based on medical evidence.
“The reports from the Brook enquiry on advice apparently given in Oxford are very worrying, and underline the need for proper regulation and oversight of all centres offering pregnancy and abortion counselling.
“I have put down questions in the Commons to the Secretary of State for Health asking him to review these services and to bring them within the responsibilities of the Care Quality Commission, which regulates other health provision.”
Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood said: “Women seeking advice on abortion and pregnancy options can be very vulnerable for all sorts of reasons.
“It is vital that no matter what their circumstances they should be able to have complete confidence that the advice they receive is accurate, non-judgmental and evidence-based.”
Ms Scanlan added: “This is not the first time and it won’t be the last that this comes up. The people who set the abortion agenda are determined there won’t be places like this for women to come for advice.
“When a woman is in this situation it is important she is given the time and space to explore her feelings and emotions and arrives at an informed decision for her, not her boyfriend, mother, father, husband.”