Many of us have participated in government consultation processes and may well have wondered whether it was worth the effort. Here are two salutary stories.
Scrapping At-home Abortion Pills
A public consultation that led to the government scrapping at-home abortion pills was subject to a targeted campaign by right-to-life groups. Of over 18,000 responses, the majority favoured the ending of the approval brought in during the pandemic. No special consideration was given to medical groups, all of which had stated that ‘pills by post’ for an early medical abortion was a safe and effective service that benefited women and the NHS. They referred to a survey of more than 50,000 early medical terminations which showed that 80 per cent of women considered at-home abortions their preferred option. The president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said ‘there is no medical justification for withdrawing this service…this is not in the interests of women…and will be devastating for women trying to access an abortion in England…it will not only cause untold amounts of distress…but also punish the most vulnerable.’ The UN and the WHO both treat abortion as a health issue.
Selling off Channel 4
According to the public consultation of more than 40,000 people commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports, just two per cent were in favour of selling off Channel 4, the network created in 1982 under Margaret Thatcher’s government to help serve under-represented audiences. The survey, published alongside the Broadcasting White Paper Up Next, found that 91 per cent of respondents believed the broadcaster would no longer be financially sustainable in private ownership. The Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries, insisted it was not being sold off for ‘ideological reasons’.