Thursday, 1 September 2011

Response to a Peter Saunders' Tweet

Yesterday in a fit of mild annoyance I tweeted the following. did she arrive at her 60k Fewer abortions? The only thing I can think is 30% with mental problems out of 200k. 
To be honest I probably shouldn't have appended #stupid, but I was running out of characters, and I wanted to imply the possible reasoning I propose was daft. But I was questioning how Nadine Dorries arrived at her oft quoted statement that 60k fewer abortions will be performed after the amendment. If anyone was offended by it I apologise unreservedly.

But I am genuinely interested in how Nadine Dorries's proposed changes will stop nearly one in three women considering an abortion from going through with it. It seems a completely extraordinary claim to make without substantial, and large supporting evidence.

I actually got a reply tweet later in the day from a twitter account purporting to be from a Dr. Peter Saunders
notjarvis  60k fewer abortions based on differences in average european abortion rates -  

The twitter account profile says  - CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship.

Now Peter Saunders is a name that's been in the news a bit as someone who advised Nadine Dorries - the MP at the centre of the proposed amendment. I'm unsure what I've done to receive such attention, but I'll gladly respond as I see fit to the tweet (and I couldn't fit my response in a tweet so here it is).

"Based on differences between average european abortion rates"

OK? Thanks for the answer - I presume the two links you posted will lay out exactly how that figure was arrived at.
Link 1 is to this page ->

It basically lays out that pjsaunders blog supports the amendment and reiterates the claim made by Nadine Dorries without any discussion of it.

 Nadine Dorries ... believes this amendment could reduce the total number of abortions by as much as a third, or 60,000 a year. 

So I'm unsure as to why the doctor included it. Maybe its as a reference point for his point of view. Anyway, that's all pretty irrelevant to any discussion of this 60,000 figure.

The second linked article disturbed me slightly to see it included in this debate. it is linked here.
The article is a discussion about the use of informed consent in other countries.
It lays out some ideas about informed consent used in other countries. The informed Consent talked about in this article is this from the first line (my bold).
Abortion legislation in many countries already includes mandatory counselling for women
Already I'm a bit nervous, as Nadine Dorries has insisted again and again that the counselling she is talking about is not I'm not quite sure how this article relates to her amendment.

There is actually some data at the bottom of this one in a table. it's still absolutely unclear to me how this relates to the 60,000 claim as we have already established the Informed Consent in the countries listed is totally different to what Nadine Dorries is proposing.
All I know is Dr. Saunders said to me
 60k fewer abortions based on differences in average european abortion rates

One way would be to take the headline figure of ~180000 abortions a year carried out in the UK and assume we would totally drop to "informed Consent" levels I suppose.
Average abortions / 1000 women in non-informed Consent countries = 18.1
Average abortions / 1000 women in "Informed Consent" countries = 11.9
11.9 / 18.1 = 0.657
0.657 x 180,00 is close to 12000 i.e. a 60,000 drop I suppose.
As I've already stated it's a pretty bogus comparison as Nadine repeatedly states she is not proposing Mandatory counselling, and this sample is rather directly comparing non-mandatory to mandatory counselling countries, and from the sound of it some of them rather pressure women towards not having an abortion.

If it's calculated this way , you could also argue that the effects of different pregnancy rates in different countries are not taken into account in the tables compared, so it's at very best an incredibly simplistic metric.

Another problem with the comparison is if you look at the examples of Informed Consent offered in the article, the least pressured one, that sounds most like what Nadine Dorries claims her amendment amounts to (voluntary balanced counselling) would be the French example.

Comparing the UK directly to the French is illuminating in this case I believe

CountryCounselling offeredCooling-off periodNumber of abortionsNumber of women aged 15-44Abortion Rate
FranceCounselling on Alternatives7 Days208, 80012,282,35317
United Kingdom--181,60010,682,35317

Interestingly similar  n'est-ce pas?

To be honest I'm still rather mystified by the whole thing. It seems extraordinary to me that an elected MP can make various hugely dramatic claims with no-one really calling her on it, and it not appearing to be based in a solid grounding of facts.. 
I'd still love to see some evidence for this number as what Dr. Peter Saunders posted to me makes little sense of it, or if it is the direct source it's a pretty obvious case of comparing Apples and Oranges, and declaring there are 60,000 pears in the banana grove.

Late Edit:
After I created this blog I tweeted a link to it to Peter Saunders's Twitter account (not sure if he's read this blog. Received another reply, I reproduce both for reference
My Tweet:
drpetersaunders still not sure as to where this 60k comes from. The article you linked compares mandatory counselling
His Reply appears to confirm my guesses in this blog to some extent.
notjarvis Yes it is obviously only an estimate but compulsory counselling is unlikely to be much more effective than voluntary
This seems to me to be an extraordinary statement, especially when an elected MP is repeating this claim regularly. I replied again
  Really? I find that hard to believe without some compelling evidence. Especially in systems like Germany's is described. 
I await another reply. Out of interest (again from the Informed Consent article he linked my to),  part of the comparison to create this number is to systems like Germany's which..... (I've added bit in italics).
Germany : [Mandatory] Counselling is designed to protect the unborn life, so the counsellor is required to inform the woman that the unborn have a right to life, and to try and convince her to continue with the pregnancy. The counsellor cannot force this choice on the woman. 


Anonymous said...

Anything Dorries MP says I could never believe knowing that she made such wild and untrue statement's last time she got on this Hobby Horse of Abortion.
One example Peter Saunders might seriously consider on her BLOG in her words was she saw as a nurse an aborted baby in a bedpan and TOLD THE DOCTOR she was sedning for the Crash Team so dramatic and just like this MP. Are we to believe that she would ORDER a Doctor ? and she was a mere RN.
Also her word on her blog--A baby punched it's way out of the womb Dorries needs to remember readers keep files on her blogs !!!!

Nancy said...

I agree 100% with the comment by Anonymous said
I have found some of her stories on her blog 90% fiction.
I also noticed the story as a nurse---well she said the baby in the bedpan was still alive,however I am sorry but it did NOT ring true that she would talk to a Doctor in that manner and it was drama as the previous comment said.
Also her "Hand Of Hope" goes beyond my comprehension she actually made so many mistakes there people did sit up and attack her and rightly so.
This Dr. is very foolish to be involved with this MP who Cameron once said was "Waky" his words.