Posters censored at abortion care conference, doctors claim | Abortion

Doctors and academics have claimed they were asked by the Royal Society of Medicine to obscure the word “abortion” on signs and posters at a conference centred on the topic.

The campaign group Doctors for Choice UK obscured the line “Clinicians for abortion rights” on their poster with three yellow Post-it notes which bore the word “censored”.

The picture was shared on Twitter by Dr Jane Dickson, a consultant in sexual and reproductive healthcare, who said: “I cannot believe that in 2022 @RoySocMed has forbidden us to use the word #Abortion at an #AbortionCare conference.” In later posts, she said organisers had been asked to cover up the word on signs and posters.

The conference is an event by the British Society of Abortion Care Providers (BSACP) hosted at the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) in London, and is being held in a hybrid form with participants also able to join online.

According to online information the conference “provides the opportunity for healthcare professionals working in the field of abortion care and provision to come together face-to-face as a supportive community”.

A RSM spokesperson said: “We are proud to have organised, promoted and hosted this important conference on abortion care. We have used the term ‘abortion’ across all our promotional activities, in the title of the event and during the event itself. We are investigating the claims made today.”

Abortion Talk, My Body My Life, and Doctors For Choice UK issued a joint statement in which they say they were invited to the conference to set up an exhibition and stand – as they had in previous years. However, upon arriving they say they were asked by RSM staff to set up in a small seminar room in the basement, next to the toilets.

“Initially, we were told that this was due to the ‘sensitive’ nature of the exhibition,” the statement adds, noting the “emphasis” placed on a neighbouring conference by the Children’s Trust relating to paediatric brain injury.

The groups refused to set up in the basement, but were denied permission to set up in the main exhibitors’ space for the BSACP conference because they were not fee-paying exhibitors.

“A compromise was reached whereby we could set up the stand in the main refreshments area, as long as we covered up the word abortion where it may be visible to attendees of the Children’s Trust conference,” the statement said. “Though we weren’t sure about censoring ourselves, on balance, we decided that this was an excellent example of why our organisations are so desperately needed.”

It added: “Abortion is healthcare, and abortion providers attending this conference have received a clear message from the Royal Society of Medicine that this crucial area of medicine is something to be hidden and ashamed of. No other specialty would be subjected to this stigmatising treatment.”