Some CareConfidential updatesPosted: 13 January 2013
There’s some good news: CareConfidential has removed quite a lot of the frightening and medically-inaccurate information from their website! In particular all references to the made-up condition “post-abortion trauma” have disappeared, which I think is really just great – for people who aren’t savvy that’s a bit less misinformation out there to trip up on.
We’re still very concerned about CareConfidential’s (mis)use of the Information Standard certification mark on their website. This certification only applies to materiels such as pamphlets or videos, not to counselling; but this isn’t mentioned anywhere on the website, creating a false impression that their counselling services are accredited by the Department for Health. (There’s also an earlier post about CareConfidential and the Information Standard).
FAC believes strongly that anyone who is considering using a counselling service has a right to accurate information about that service in order to make an informed decision.
We’ve been struggling to work out how to best move forward with the Information Standard issue. A Freedom of Information request did not bring any results, and the Information Standard website is broken and has been for months: it takes several minutes to load, if it loads at all, and you have to wait again for every. new. page. or. link. that you click.
Eventually after much persistence we worked out how to go forward with a complaint against CareConfidential, by posting into a form on the Information Standard website. I’m posting the complaint here as well, to have a record of it.
Here’s a copy of the complaint that was sent to the Information Standard website:
I would like to register a complaint regarding the pregnancy counselling organisation CareConfidential, which is using its Information Standard certification in a way which is likely to seriously mislead members of the public.
1. Organisations that display the Information Standard mark are required to make it clear which materiels the mark applies to. CareConfidential has not done this. The mark is displayed on CareConfidential’s website giving the impression that it applies to all of CareConfidential’s activities. In particular: CareConfidential’s main focus is providing counselling, either on the phone, through their website, or in person through their network of counselling centres. The Information Standard only applies to materiels such as pamphlets or videos, not to counselling, but members of the public don’t know that. Members of the public are likely being mislead into believing that the counselling services provided by CareConfidential are certified and endorsed by the Department for Health.
2. Organisations that display the Information Standard mark are required to clearly state any biases or conflicts of interest they have. Until less than a year ago CareConfidential was part of the pro-life organisation CARE, which opposes abortion in all circumstances, yet nowhere on their website is this pro-life bias made clear.
3. Information Standard accredited organisations are required to present accurate, evidence-based health information. Until recently CareConfidential’s website included information on ‘Post-Abortion Trauma’, which both the Royal College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians and the American Psychological Association have confirmed is not a medically recognised condition. (A systematic review by The National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health in 2011 showed that there is no difference in mental health outcomes between continuing or aborting an unplanned pregnancy.) While fortunately references to ‘post-abortion trauma’ have been recently removed, some misleading materiel remains. In particular the disturbing video “Reannon’s Journey – recovering from abortion” is featured on the front page. It presents stories of several women who were left emotionally traumatised by abortion. The individual stories may be true but the overall effect is to strongly imply that abortion always leads to great emotional suffering. This contradicts the best scientific evidence, and the video seems to be intended to frighten women who may be considering having an abortion.
4. Some other examples of biased, manipulative content on CareConfidential’s website:
“Choosing to keep your baby is a very positive choice. Your baby will bring you fulfillment, joy and love as well as challenges and you will know in your heart that you have done a good thing for yourself and your child.” -http://www.careconfidential.com/WhatAboutHavingABaby.aspx
“Adoption for some people is the most loving option, *it means you care about your child*. You are giving them the opportunity to have what you are unable to provide right now.” – http://www.careconfidential.com/WhatAboutAdoption.aspx
“Give yourself some time to really think about whether adoption could be a positive choice for your baby and for you, rather than just dismissing the idea. You want to make a decision that you will be able to live with now and into the future. Perhaps it would help to find out more information to be able to make an informed choice. A good first step would be to talk to someone about it. Ring CareConfidential on 0300 4000 999 to talk to an advisor online.” – http://www.careconfidential.com/WhatAboutAdoption.aspx
As a member of the feminist action group Feminist Action Cambridge I believe strongly that every woman has a right to high-quality, evidence-based health information, and I am very concerned that CareConfidential’s misuse of their Information Standard certification is getting in the way of this. I look forward to hearing from you how these problems will be dealt with.