Fundiewatch: a Catholic prenatal diagnosis “counselling service”

Two of our local Catholic hospital networks have collaborated to offer a new so-called “counselling service, dubbed “Mamreh”. These two hospitals combined have a lot of community credibility already, as they provide the vast majority of private-hospital maternity services in this State. Baby-catching (or baby-cutting-out, for over half the births in these hospitals) is big business around here.

Mamreh has been taking out full-page ads in the local medical rags pushing their “counselling service” to doctors. The advertisements make no disclosure of the Catholic-medicine rider that the service operates under – which means no condoning, recommending, or counselling on termination of pregnancy, except in cases where the mother’s life is at substantial risk.

This service’s stated purpose? Counselling on prenatal genetic screening and diagnosis. Stating the bleeding obvious, the ad I’m looking at says, “Prenatal genetic screening and diagnostic test information can have profound medical, psychological, and social implications”. No kidding. It goes on, “To add to this there is often only a limited time in which to make critical decisions about a pregnancy.”

This window of defencelessness is crucial. Fundies want to ensure that women are rapidly bustled by their trusted doctors or midwives into a “counselling service” whose primary goal is to hide information from them. The ultimate goal of this type of counselling is to obfuscate information on options and to coerce women into continuing a pregnancy whether they wish to or not – or at least, to delay them just long enough so that the window for a readily accessible termination of pregnancy closes.

Fundies have been pulling this crap in Australia for years, first with tacit government approval and now with open government funding and encouragement, thanks to our papist Health Minister. Attempts to get fraudulent “unplanned pregnancy counselling services” to declare their “faith-based” bias up front have thus far failed.

And now these malignant woman-hating godbags are expanding their vile game to even more vulnerable women – those who are in the initial throes of learning that their fetus has a severe medical problem.

The Mamreh ad veers from there into outright sleight of hand:

“Mamreh Counselling Service explores self, motivations, beliefs and faith in the context of a patient’s own personal, cultural and social situation.”

Would you read this as saying that if your belief system allows termination of pregnancy in the event of severe congenital defect, the service would offer unprejudiced counselling on, and referral for, termination of pregnancy? Well, stop right there. This is not the case. Not remotely.

Do NOT go to this service, or any service like it, unless your goal is to be railroaded into continuing your pregnancy come what may. If a friend or relative has been referred to this service, make sure they know what they’re in for BEFORE they cross the threshold and the forced-birther brainwashing and guilt trips begin. A woman in this awful situation needs absolutely unqualified, unconditional support throughout her decision-making process.

Lying lies and the lying liars who tell them. We hatesss them, we does.

Categories: ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, medicine, religion

Tags: , , , , , ,

4 replies

  1. Not exactly on point, but when I had a baby in one of those hospitals, one of the points covered in the ante-natal class was post birth contraception. They recommended breastfeeding and weren’t allowed to talk about the mini-pill.

  2. Genetic counselling? I don’t know how to feel about this. On one hand, I believe that women have the right to decide the fate of their bodies. On the other, I was born with an intersex condition and one of my cousins has cystic fibrosis.
    But, yes, having an organisation with a closed mind and unsympathetic heart advising women is a recipe for disaster.

  3. I hear you loud and clear, E. I have a chronic medical condition myself and keep in touch with the disability blogosphere – in which there is certainly a wide variety of opinions on pregnancy termination and disability.
    If an non-religious organisation was offering unbiased prenatal counselling including ongoing support and real-life information on adults living with disabilities, while still counselling on all the options, I’d be all over it (in a good way). I’ve met too many colleagues who reflexively refer for prenatal screening without even ascertaining whether a woman actually wants it first!
    You’ve triggered off a reminder in my brain – I want to start drafting an article on the mutilation of infants with intersex conditions. I’ll put it on my to-do list. (If you have any particularly good resources that you’d like to share, please let me know by email – one of my major sources is ISNA, and I’ll also be drawing from medical textbook sources at my disposal.)


  1. Best of: Feminism — Hoyden About Town
%d bloggers like this: