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Pregnancy counselling centres, UK, show serious flaws

Date: 14 October 2011
Source: Education for Choice

A recent review of independent Crisis Pregnancy Centres (CPCs) in the UK has found many concerns with the way that these centres operation.
CPCs are independent organisations oferring discussion around pregnancy choices for women who are uncertain about continuing with a pregnancy . Some CPCs offer free pregnancy testing and other services.

Education for Choice surveyed the quality of service that CPCs offer to women facing an unplanned pregnancy by 'mystery shopping' eight CPCs. The mystery shopper presented herself as someone with an unwanted pregnancy who was considering abortion, but required additional information and support to make up her mind.

The review found that many of the counsellors were genuine and well-meaning, but were hampered by a lack of good basic listening skills and lack of practical, accurate information about abortion or other options. Some centres deliberately deterred the mystery shopper from having an abortion at any cost, for example by giving dramatic misinformation such as that 100% of women who have abortions will get cancer. Two of the eight centres did provide impartial and helpful advice but it was not clear what added value they offered in comparison with counselling by an abortion provider.

The study concludes that, at worst, CPCs are operating in ways which go against good practice principles. At best, what they offer is acceptable but not necessarily valuable. Before signposting women to pregnancy services, health services should investigate fully their local service before recommending, promoting or funding them in any way.

The report can be downloaded here.