Green party

Better sex education needed to cut abortions

31 March 2003

The Green Party today called for contraceptives to be available in schools, and more sex education for young people, to tackle the ever-rising numbers of abortions in Britain.

Following a decision of the party’s spring conference in Llandrindod Wells, the Greens today unveiled their new policy and called on national and local government to take firm action as the abortion rate continues to rise.

In England and Wales there were 186,274 abortions in 2001, even though the conception rate is lower than it has ever been, with only 595,000 live births. This means about one in four pregnancies ends in abortion. In London, the rate is about one in three. In 2001, 7,540 Welsh women underwent abortions, an increase of 17 per cent in only six years.

Vanessa Hall, the party’s spokesperson on women’s issues, said: "Every one of those women suffered the fear and anxiety of an unwanted pregnancy, followed by a distressing operation."

Ms Hall, who lives in Hulme, inner-city Manachester with her partner and their 4-month-old old son, added: "I’m not anti-abortion, I’m in favour of a woman’s right to choose, but we cannot let this rising tide of misery continue."

Depression

Martyn Shrewsbury, a Swansea-based psychotherapist and the party’s spokesperson on health & social services, added: "Many women who have had abortions have suffered feelings of depression, numbness, loss and guilt afterwards - I see the effects in therapy. A few will also have had medical complications. Much of this could and should have been prevented.

"Most politicians don’t want to tackle this because it is such a controversial issue. That’s why the Green Party has passed a new resolution calling for better sex education and more accessible, free contraception.

"We also want a better welfare package for women on low-incomes or with disabled children, so women who would rather keep their child can do so."

Disposable society

Mr Shrewsbury said the rising abortion rate was caused by a disposable society, which encouraged people to treat each other as disposable sex objects rather than valuable human beings.

He said: "We need proper education about sexuality that emphasises that it is a gift that we should use to explore ourselves, and that emphasises our responsibility to ourselves and to each other.

"I believe young women who had more information would probably have less sex, because they would be empowered to say no to sex they didn’t want.

"They would also be able to insist on contraception. Young men also need to be taught to understand and respect themselves and their partners.

"They may have less sex but they have better quality sex and learn more about themselves and their sensuality in safer relationships."

Stigma

Vanessa Hall added that the stigma surrounding contraception should be removed so it is easily available free in schools, pharmacies and elsewhere.

She concluded: "Contraception should simply be seen as a method to explore and improve yourself, like a good book."

Notes
1. Abortion figures have risen almost every year since the procedure was legalised in 1967. Though the numbers dropped slightly in the early 1990, they soon started to rise again and there are now more abortions taking place every year than ever before.
2. Figures detailed in the Office for National Statistics document "Abortion Statistics series AB no 27"
3. The full policy follows. For further information, comment, interviews: contact the Green Party Press Office