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Abortion: Counselling

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 32129, tabled on 19 March 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that the counselling women receive whilst considering an abortion is independent.

Answered on

25 March 2020

Guidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists sets out that healthcare staff caring for women requesting abortion should identify those who require more support in the decision-making process and pathways to additional support, including counselling and social services, should be available. For abortions provided by independent sector providers must meet the Required Standard Operating Procedures (RSOPs) set out in the Department’s Procedures for the Approval of Independent Sector Places for the Termination of Pregnancy (Abortion).

The RSOPs require that all women requesting an abortion should be offered the opportunity to discuss their options and choices with a trained counsellor and this offer should be regularly repeated. A trained pregnancy counsellor is someone trained to Diploma level or equivalent. Counselling must be non-directive and non-judgemental and should not create barriers or delays. Counsellors should undergo continuous professional development and training similar to other professionals.