The egregious Nadine Dorries appeared on the Today programme this morning to push her anti-abortion agenda. Together with her tag team partner Frank Field, the MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, has put forward an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill which, if successful, will prevent organisations like Marie Stopes and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service from providing abortion patients with counselling.
It would be generous to credit her campaign as sneaky but her showing on Today was really quite extraordinary as she was able to make allegations about BPAS’ procedures without facing a challenge.
In the world of Dorries, apparently BPAS’ biggest clinic, in London, has the ‘largest through-put of women’ but offers just ‘one hour of counselling per week’. If that was not available the woman would have to wait a week or, being a London patient, have to travel to Richmond.
Presenter Sarah Montague then asked Ms Dorries if she thought organisations like BPAS had a profit motive.
Nadine responded by saying that in the job descriptions of BPAS’ business development managers they talked about wanting ‘to increase their market share so one could say that’.
But simply, her message was that the moment a woman walks into a clinic it was a ‘fait accompli’ and all she and Frank want to do is increase choice and counselling.
Even as I listened to this, as I clambered on a Boris Bike this morning, I could scarcely believe the claims to be true. And why, I wondered, had no one from BPAS been put up by the BBC to rebut her comments? Not knowing the inner workings of Today, no answer was available but before the end of the programme Sarah Montague read out their reply.
Nadine's claims, according to BPAS, were ‘categorically untrue’. Instead of just one hour available to all women per week, all women in fact ‘are offered as much counselling when they are going for an abortion as they wish’.
Ms Dorries might have found more about BPAS’ service had she contacted them. But no, that’s a step too far for the Conservative MP.
BPAS continued: ‘Nadine Dorries has never contacted BPAS to find out about how care is provided. BPAS is a not-for-profit charity with no financial incentive to increase the number of abortions.’
It’s still shocking the BBC didn’t get someone from BPAS to counter Ms Dorries’ claims in person but it is possible even they were not ready for her deliberate misinformation. One might have thought, however, her word is not particularly reliable especially as she has confessed her blog to be ’70 per cent fiction’.
Channel 4’s Factcheck has gone to town on Dorries’ latest exploits. In it, BPAS say that far from being their biggest clinic, their London base is small and while there is one hour set aside for one-one the service if ‘flexible enough to provide more such sessions as and when they are requested’.
Unusually for Factcheck they harshly judge Dorries’ behaviour, saying making such misleading claims wouldn’t ‘befit a nurse, let alone an MP’.
I can do no better than agree.
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