Inviting organisations to talk about issues in schools can be a positive thing: for example, the Time For Inclusive Education campaign helps battle the bullying of LGBT+ kids. But what if the organisation has a track record of falsification and shock tactics?
In an article about the tactics of anti-abortion groups, The Overtake notes that the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child regularly gives presentations to Scots schoolchildren.
Statistics for England are “unavailable”, but in Scotland SPUC delivers talks in around 50 schools per year, often to meet a curriculum need.
The SPUC declined to let the writer see any of the materials they use to meet this curriculum need.
That’s deeply worrying. Here’s The Guardian, 11 years ago:
Spuc, for example, tells teenagers there are links between abortion and breast cancer, although organisations such as Cancer Research UK and Breakthrough Breast Cancer have consistently presented research to prove there is no link. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) categorically states that abortion is not associated with an increase in breast-cancer risk.
Here’s The Overtake, this week.
a catalogue of educational leaflets are available from its website, many of which make for interesting reading. Its Abortion Pack includes a quotation from Dr Thomas Stuttaford which claims an “unusually high proportion” of women who had undergone an abortion later developed breast cancer. “Such women are up to four times more likely to develop breast cancer,” he says.
Its pamphlet on Abortion and Women’s Health, dated April 2017 and authored by devout Catholic Dr Greg Pike, persists with the view that the relationship between abortion and elevated risk of breast cancer is “a controversial question”
The facts, the science, hasn’t changed in the last decade.
That’s just one example. The organisation also makes false claims about mental health and about how contraception works.
Back to The Guardian:
Many anti-abortion organisations refer to “post-abortion syndrome”, whose symptoms can include panic attacks, relationship problems, self-harm, drug and alcohol abuse, and depression. In fact, it is not a recognised medical condition. In August, the American Psychological Association concluded: “There is no credible evidence that single elective abortion of an unwanted pregnancy in and of itself causes mental-health problems for adult women.”
…Spuc opts for both types of pictures. Having watched its presentation, labelled “standard abortion talk 2008”, I am not surprised to hear that in one class of 16- and 17-year-olds shown the presentation in July, half the students left distressed and some were physically sick.
I can’t help wondering what the Venn diagram of “people who don’t want kids to learn that LGBT+ folks exist” and “people who are fine with forced birthers peddling verifiably false claims” would look like.
Letting religious groups peddle demonstrably false information and make children vomit isn’t balance. It’s bullshit.
Nobody I spoke to suggested that anti-abortion views should be shielded from young people. But, says Furedi, any discussion in school must be honest and provide accurate, impartial and up-to-date information. “Better still,” she says, “let’s move it out of the RE room and be much more upfront about the fact that one in three women will have an abortion at some time in their lives and that basically, if you’re fertile and sexually active, you are at risk of an unwanted pregnancy.”
Children should learn about abortion. I’ve had several conversations with my 11-year-old daughter about it, conversations in which both sides of the argument have been explored. But it’s a health issue, not a religious issue, and should be taught as such.