The Guardian ‘clarifies’ its anti-LIFE hatchet job
Instead, Mr Quinn is continuing to amend his original article in order to ‘clarify’ where he has previously quite blatantly sought to mislead. His Grace expressed incredulity at one paragraph in particular, which he quoted:
At a Life centre in Covent Garden, London, the undercover researcher was given a leaflet entitled Abortions – How they're Done, which said incorrectly that 85% of abortions are carried out using vacuum aspiration. It stated that "the unborn child is sucked down the tube" and that "the woman should wear some protection. She has to dispose of the corpse."It would appear that Mr Quinn has been reading His Grace’s blog, for this paragraph was swiftly amended yesterday, to read:
At a Life centre in Covent Garden, London, the undercover researcher was given a leaflet entitled Abortions – How they're Done, which said incorrectly that 85% of abortions are carried out using vacuum aspiration. It stated that "the unborn child is sucked down the tube" and that "the woman should wear some protection. She has to dispose of the corpse [in the case of chemically induced abortion]."At the bottom of his article, Mr Quinn explains: ‘...a reference to a woman disposing of a "corpse" has been updated to clarify the method of termination involved.’
This isn’t merely a ‘clarification’. In the first version, the context is clearly that of ‘vacuum aspiration’: one is given the distinct impression that the ‘unborn child is sucked down the tube’ and, with all the horror of blood and torn-off limbs, the woman is advised to ‘wear some protection’ because she has to dispose of the corpse. And note the inserted full stop after the word ‘corpse’, within the quotation mark. Mr Quinn did not use an ellipsis to suggest omission; he purposely (mis)quoted. LIFE were, he said, informing women that after traumatic surgery they are then expected to dispose of the severed limbs and bloody torso of ‘the corpse’.
Now, however, we read that the context is one of ‘chemically-induced’ abortion (ie RU-486). This pill is usually administered during the early weeks of pregnancy – in the UK before the ‘foetal period’ – when the developing baby is tiny. Women who take this pill at home are indeed left to dispose of ‘the corpse’ themselves, but it is far from the fully-formed human body Mr Quinn suggested with his deceptive juxtaposition.
That is now two amendments which this article has undergone, and His Grace would like to ask Mr Quinn to ‘clarify’ something further. He states:
At a Life centre in Covent Garden, London... The counsellor was said to have focused on mental health issues that she associated with abortion, telling the researcher she was of a good age to have a child, showing her baby clothes and using terms such as "baby" and "grandchild" when referring to the pregnancy.His Grace has it on very good authority that, while baby clothes are indeed held at some LIFE centres, there are none kept at the Covent Garden centre at all. So, Mr Quinn, fertile imagination? Career in fiction? Your journalism is shoddy, insubstantial and inaccurate. And you could have perhaps mentioned that the lady you purport to quote is not a counsellor at all and does not pretend to be. Her task in an emergency and advice drop-in centre is that of being a ‘skilled listener’ who is trained reflect the language of the client: if the ‘mystery shopper’ refers to a baby, the ‘skilled listener’ will empathetically adopt the terminology in order to reassure. So attacking LIFE for calling a foetus a baby or a child is bizarre: indeed, who are ‘Education for Choice’ to coerce LIFE into accepting and adopting their ‘pro-choice’ terminology? LIFE are concerned with ‘him’ and ‘her’; EFC are concerned with ‘it’. It really ought to be possible to call the foetus a baby without being accused of emotional manipulation.
LIFE have also requested the transcripts of these alleged conversations, and have identified the lady involved. It appears to be the case that she made errors, but one isolated incident does not constitute credible ‘research’, and is certainly not grounds for LIFE losing their accreditation to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), which James Gray of the New Humanist has written to request. Since no counselling was actually taking place, however, it is difficult to understand the rationale for this application. But these are the same tactics that were used against Leslie Pilkington, so it leaves the feeling this is all part of an orchestrated campaign.
And James Gray article is interesting for other reasons. He refers in his opening paragraph to:
New research published today by the charity Education for Choice reveals...But EFC have published no research, unless Mr Gray is so naïve as to endow The Guardian with academic credibility in the publication of social science research. His hostility and bias are manifest when he refers to the ‘agendas of hardline faith-based groups’ which have ‘cultivated a moderate image’ beneath which they are ‘uncompromising’, ‘aggressive’ and ‘extreme’. His evidence for this? Well, it’s really quite astonishing:
Their (Education for Choice) undercover researcher, who visited a Life counsellor at the office where I met Gooch, was given a leaflet on vacuum aspiration abortion which said "the unborn child is sucked down the tube" and that "the woman should wear some protection. She has to dispose of the corpse."So Ben Quinn's (now amended and ‘clarified’) misquotation and purposeful deception becomes, for James Gray, authoritative research evidence. Perhaps he, too, might like to ‘clarify’ before he escalates his application to the BACP for LIFE’s membership to be suspended. He writes:
In light of Education for Choice's research I believe that BACP should immediately suspend Life's membership and launch a full investigation into it and any other CPCs on its books. I wrote to Laurie Clarke, BACP's CEO, this morning to urge him to do so. I hope others will join me.Doubtless they will, Mr Gray. Doubtless they will. But it is quite clear that this is a concerted campaign to discredit LIFE and have them removed from the Government’s Sexual Health Forum altogether. The FPA (Family Planning Association) sexual health charity have tabled amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill to prevent independent sector providers from providing decision-making support on abortion. They write:
Organisations opposed to abortion should not be able to provide pregnancy advice services:If LIFE should be removed from the Sexual Health Forum because ‘by their very nature’ and ‘ideology’ they are ‘not able to offer non-directive and accurate information’, a fortiori atheist and humanist groups should be barred from membership of the various governmental and non-governmental faith bodies upon which they sit. If, ‘by their very nature’ and ‘ideology’ atheists and humanists are antithetical to religion, how can they contribute relevant or accurate information to any discussions? Isn’t the ‘evidence’ acquired by Education for Choice against LIFE about as fair, credible and valid as an inquiry led by Dr Richard Dawkins into the historical claims and spiritual authenticity of Christianity?
We believe that organisations who are ideologically opposed to abortion must not be able to provide pregnancy advisory services, as by their very nature an ideology against abortion would mean it was not able to offer non-directive and accurate information, about all the choices available to women when they are faced with an unplanned pregnancy.