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Right Choice

Abortion education in UK schools

Tuesday 28th June 2022

Following the recent decision of the US Supreme Court it may be useful to have a reminder about abortion education in UK schools.

Teaching about pregnancy choices including abortion is now part of the mandatory requirements for RSHE for secondary age pupils, and yet it’s an aspect of Relationships and Sex Education that 30% of young people say they either learnt ‘nothing’ or ‘not enough’ about (Sex Education Forum poll, 2019).

RSHE Statutory Guidance

Here’s a quick reminder of what the RSHE statutory guidance requires.

In the section on Intimate and sexual relationships, including sexual health for secondary level, the guidance specifically requires schools to ensure pupils are taught about pregnancy choices and support, and stresses any teaching should provide medically and legally accurate, impartial information on all options, including keeping the baby, adoption, abortion and where to get further help.

Abortion Care Factsheet

To help schools fulfil this statutory duty, the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists published an Abortion Care Factsheet providing up to date medical and legal information about abortion care. The Factsheet, co-badged by the Sex Education Forum, PSHE Association and PHE is designed to help schools ensure that any educator providing teaching of pregnancy choices, whether their own staff or from an external provider, adheres to the factually accurate information from the RCOG/FSRH, the national medical authority on abortion care.

Information about where to get help

The guidance also requires schools to inform pupils about where to get further help on pregnancy options and how and where to access confidential sexual and reproductive health advice and treatment, details of which will be available from local public health teams. As the Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Framework government guidance states, young people should be told where they can access unbiased pregnancy options advice, and be informed if other organisations offering free pregnancy testing and advice are opposed to abortion.

Using external visitors 

The Teenage Pregnancy Knowledge Exchange report that a recent article in Vice has identified a significant amount of funding from the US to support a UK anti-choice organisation providing ‘RSE’. While anti-choice ‘education’ about abortion in secondary level may be more visible, vigilance at primary level is also important. The Vice article reports that some of the US funding may be channelled into primary RSE, focussing on teaching about ‘development in the womb’.

Guidance on selecting visitors for PSHE and RSE is available from the following organisations:

More about RSHE education 
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