Humanist Society Scotland has written in support of teacher Gemma Clark’s petition to ensure that children at schools in Scotland have access to medically sound, non-biased abortion education. Ms Clark wrote to the Scottish Parliament’s Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee after an exposé in The Herald revealed that an anti-abortion group, SPUC Scotland (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children Scotland), had made dozens of school visits over the last five years.
Students across every school in Scotland deserve access to factual education on healthcare, including information on sexual and reproductive health. The growth in reach of anti-abortion organisations into Scottish schools should be a cause for alarm for us all. We urge the Scottish Government to enact an immediate review of the extent of anti-abortion activist activities in schools as part of healthcare education and how schools should ensure evidenced advice is offered instead.Fraser Sutherland, CEO of Humanist Society Scotland.
Humanist Society Scotland has been contacted recently by several members regarding the activities of SPUC Scotland. This openly anti-abortion group has visited schools in at least eight different local authority areas. This includes primary schools, with one school visited 33 times. The materials presented in schools are based on faith principles and not supported by expert medical practitioners. SPUC currently hosts information on its YouTube channel, for example, promoting the use of progesterone for “abortion reversal”. A practice condemned by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, the Royal College of Midwives, and the British Society of Abortion Care Providers (BSACP).
Humanist Society Scotland welcomes giving students the chance to learn about different perspectives on abortion. This includes a range of religious positions. But this kind of education must be delivered by appropriately trained and resourced teachers. Teachers of the Religious and Moral Education are well placed to deliver such content and discussion. It is totally inappropriate for the SPUC to be delivering the equivalent of healthcare education.
The vision of SPUC, as stated on their promotional materials, is: “a world where abortion is unthinkable.” This is clearly in conflict with the Scottish Government submission to Ms. Clark’s petition (PE 1991 / A) on 24 January 2023, which states: “young people should experience learning which is factual, objective and enables them to make informed choices that promote and protect their own and others’ sexual health and wellbeing. Content should be delivered in a non-judgemental manner, within a framework of sound values and an awareness of the law, including that on sexual behaviour” (emphasis ours).
We also believe that, in a large majority of schools, no abortion-related resources are provided in the sexual health curriculum. This could constitute a violation of Articles 3 and 17 of the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child. These articles state that lack of access to “reliable information from a variety of sources” breaches children’s rights. In addition it can damage their education and livelihoods, as well as their health and wellbeing in some cases.
Humanist Society Scotland agrees with the petition. We call on the Scottish Government to create a non-biased, health-focused educational resource around abortion and pregnancy-related services for PSE purposes. We also urge the Parliament to request an urgent government review. This should look at all material being promoted by schools that may not meet the requirements outlined in their submission.
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