Talk:Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

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Pro-choice position[edit]

In England, RCOG is "opposed to a reduction in the time limits for abortion." See Abortion Rights web site, "Government robustly rejects minority push for abortion law review" (2006-07-04). Also see "MPs prepare for abortion fight", Sunday Telegraph (2007-05-07).

A position opposing reduction of abortion time-limits is obviously a pro-choice position. Nevertheless, this fairly simple and straightforward statement has now been reverted twice, here and here, by the same Wikipedia user (Severa).

I will now modify the description in the article, and --- if Severa still objects --- then I hope she will please explain here at this discussion page why she believes that opposing reduction of abortion time limits is not a pro-choice position. She has not explained either at this article, or at any other article, despite my repeated requests that she address this question.

At the fetal pain article, Severa has explained why she thinks that one RCOG statement ("Abortion is an essential part of women's healthcare") does not necessarily indicate a pro-choice position. However, she has not explained anywhere why she thinks that another RCOG position (i.e. opposing reduction of abortion time limits) is not a pro-choice position. I will edit the present article to focus on the latter position.

Opposition to reducing abortion time limits is obviously a pro-choice position, and there is no reason for everyone to spend their weekends arguing about this idea. Far from denying this idea, another editor (KillerChihua) is the one who suggested that this might be an appropriate description.

Anyway, check out the new edits that I am about to make. And please respond here rather than at some other talk page. Wikipedia has a policy to explain your reverts, and I would think that this is the best place to do so. Thank you.Ferrylodge 21:41, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

The debate over whether to decrease the time limit for abortion in the U.K. from 24 weeks began when a disability-rights advocate found out about a case in 2001 in which two doctors had authorised an abortion when a fetus was discovered to have a cleft palate (see Guardian article from 2005). According to a BMA briefing paper, "Many [fetal] abnormalities are not diagnosed until the latter part of the second trimester," and, medical considerations like this could be a reason for the RCOG to oppose a reduction in the U.K. abortion time limit (especially considering the history of the debate). We certainly cannot determine the reason the RCOG took the position it did from a soundbyte like "[they are] opposed to a reduction in the time limits for abortion." Why single out RCOG, because the BMA and the RCN took the same position as did RCOG, and would you describe these as pro-choice advocacy groups? We would not immediately label an organisation which supported placing specific restrictions on abortion, such as requirements for parental involvement or mandatory waiting periods, as "pro-life," simply because they were not completely siding with the concept of abortion on request. Opinion on abortion isn't strictly black or white: approval or disapproval cannot easily be lumped into "pro-life" or "pro-choice." There are intermediate positions. -Severa (!!!) 05:16, 27 May 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for your comments. You asked, "Why single out RCOG"? That would be because the present article is about RCOG.
You asked, "would you describe these [i.e. BMA and RCN] as pro-choice advocacy groups"? Please observe that my edit to this article said that RCOG took a "pro-choice position" about a particular issue. That is different from saying that RCOG is a "pro-choice advocacy group." KillerChihuahua pointed out that difference here.
I am not trying to avoid your question about the BMA, though it's not relevant in connection with the present article. Yes, I would personally view the BMA as a pro-choice advocacy group. After all, the report to which you refer states that, "the BMA does not start off from a neutral position in this debate....the BMA has repeatedly since the 1970s agreed [sic] policy statements supporting the Abortion Act ... and calling for the legislation to be extended to Northern Ireland."
I admit that it is hypothetically possible that opposition to reducing abortion time limits might be motivated by concerns about late diagnosis of fetal abnormalities. As you know, such abortions account for a very tiny fraction of abortions, but you're correct that concern about such situations could hypothetically cause someone to block a general reduction in time limits.
However, RCOG has said it is pro-choice, explicitly supporting "rights of women to exercise personal choice." RCOG has not only opposed reductions in abortion time limits, but has also sought to "make abortions easier and faster." It therefore would seem very odd to contend that RCOG has never taken any pro-choice positions.Ferrylodge 16:04, 27 May 2007 (UTC)
Do you not see the difference between stating the organization intends to ensure safe and reliable procedures are available for women seeking something which is, while completely legal and less of a contentious issue in the UK than the US, still an issue, and an organization being an activist for abortion rights? It is a huge difference. Its like saying a company which issued a guideline about treating women equally in the workplace, and ensuring they had every chance men had to train or be promoted, is a "Feminist organization". Its just not the same. KillerChihuahua?!? 21:38, 27 May 2007 (UTC)
First of all, where do you get the idea that one must be an "activist" in order to be pro-choice or to have a pro-choice position on some issue? And where is the article edit where I ever said that RCOG is "activist"? You seem to be making arguments against a person who does not exist, because I never edited any article to say that RCOG is "activist."
In the United States, a CNN poll asked the following question in May of 2007: "With respect to the abortion issue, would you consider yourself to be pro-choice or pro-life?" 45% said pro-choice and 50% said pro-life. Do you seriously believe that those 50% are activists or consider themselves activists? I certainly don't think that. Those 50% are simply saying what their opinion is.
Regarding RCOG, they may well be "activist." I don't know, and I don't see how that is the least bit relevant to whether they are "pro-choice" or whether they have taken a "pro-choice position" on some issue. I suspect RCOG is "activist" on this issue, since they oppose reduction of abortion time limits. That is a political position, and not merely a matter of complying with existing law.
And can't you see that I did not edit this article to say RCOG is a "pro-choice organization"? I edited it to say that they have taken a "pro-choice position." Can't you see the difference, anymore? You're the one who pointed out the difference in the first place.Ferrylodge 22:08, 27 May 2007 (UTC)
P.S. Just in case you've forgotten your own words of yesterday, here they are: "You've found a source which shows their sympathies, or professional view, or whatever, is not anti-abortion. It may even establish their position as pro-choice, I'm not sure - I'll have to think that one over. But the RCOG is not a pro-choice group." And now you seem to be saying that I must be some kind of moron for agreeing with what you said yesterday. Please.Ferrylodge 22:25, 27 May 2007 (UTC)
She said, "I'm not sure," which isn't exactly making a conclusive statement one way or the other — at least as I read it. -Severa (!!!) 23:31, 27 May 2007 (UTC)

Undue weight[edit]

While I am very happy to see so many people interested in an obscure stub that I started getting on for a year ago to fill a redlink, doesn't it strike anyone else that devoting roughly half of the article to the RCOG's position on abortion and the care of severely disabled newborns is giving it a little undue weight? What about their position on a million and one other issues relating to women's health and reproduction? -- ALoan (Talk) 22:03, 28 May 2007 (UTC)

This discussion spilled over from Talk:Fetal pain. I would tend to agree that it is undue weight to devote almost the same amount of coverage to the RCOG's positions on controversial topics as to its history, organisation, membership, etc. -Severa (!!!) 02:05, 29 May 2007 (UTC)
I went ahead and shortened the stuff on abortion and euthanasia.Ferrylodge 08:00, 2 June 2007 (UTC)


The discussion above about RCOG's "pro-choice position" subsequently detoured to some other Wikipedia pages. For anyone interested in following along, the discussion first went to the talk page of KillerChihuahua. Then it went to the talk page of Bishonen. Then it went to the talk page of me, Ferrylodge. Then it went to the Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents (ANI). Then it came back here.Ferrylodge 08:53, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

A full explanation of the edit that sparked this controversy is in a comment here.Ferrylodge 16:17, 2 June 2007 (UTC)


I have taken out the following:

In England, RCOG is "opposed to a reduction in the time limits for abortion".[1] [2] Regarding euthanasia, RCOG submitted a proposal to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics calling for consideration of permitting the euthanasia of disabled newborns.[3]

It makes the article look like a smear job from a yellow tabloid. An attack article. We need to research this organization more thoroughly in order to present a more balanced view; until we do, this needs to stay out of the article. KillerChihuahua?!? 23:57, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

Of course you are taking it out.Ferrylodge 23:59, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
Of course, I agree with the temporary removal. We should focus on building a solid base, and create a controversies section once this article is more substantial. We should cover all angles, and do the subject justice, in an encyclopedic fashion. I agree with ALoan above, out of all the positions and views of this organization, why are these two the most notable out of everything?-Andrew c 23:55, 3 June 2007 (UTC)
I oppose the removal, which included removing some material that has been in this article for many months. ALoan's objections had already been addressed by shortening this material down to 36 words, and he did not subsequently object (though perhaps he will now).
The 36 words in question are very brief and do not give undue weight to their subject matter. Devoting 36 words in order to accurately and objectively describe the most controversial aspects of an organization is most appropriate. Wikipedians should increase available relevant information, rather than decrease it.Ferrylodge 00:08, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
Do you have a verifiable source that these two bits are the most controversial aspects of an organization? The bit about abortion is just cherry picked from their website. No external source is saying that this view is more important or controversial than any other view on their website. Big mistake on my part. I was still thinking about the fetal pain article. I shouldn't try to edit while on vacation. Carry on.-Andrew c 00:27, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
The abortion bit is not "cherry-picked from their website." If you would take a moment to check the two cited references for the abortion bit, you'll see that neither is from their website. Andrew c, if you're really contending that abortion and euthanasia are not extremely controversial subjects, then please name one that is more controversial. In any event, if people think this article needs to be improved by adding more info, then the solution is to improve it by adding more info. I cannot offer scientific proof to you that the date of RCOG's founding is more important than their zip code, but we make judgments like this all the time.Ferrylodge 00:33, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
Shaving a few words off does not address ALoans's concern of undue weight in any way. The point is that we have an entire paragraph in a three-paragraph long stub devoted to selectively-chosen position statements. No corresponding article for a medical association that I have found (American Dental Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Australian Medical Association) features any position statements on controversial issues, so, why single out the RCOG? Why, as ALoan said, when there are a "a million and one other issues relating to women's health and reproduction" which the RCOG could take a stance on? There is no reason why the article on the RCOG should be treated any differently from the articles on any other medical association. -Severa (!!!) 04:12, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

(undent) Severa, after ALoan raised a concern about undue weight, the material in question was reduced from 104 words to a mere 37 words. That is a more than 50% reduction, and ALoan has not (yet) indicated that he thinks a greater reduction is needed.

As for Andrew c, he at first supported removal of the 37 words, but then he acknowledged a "big mistake" and urged us to "carry on". Which leaves you and KC as the only editors who presently appear to be seeking removal of material that has been in this article since 2006. Such material should not be removed without consensus.

The 37 words in question do not give undue weight to the ideas they express. Their depth of detail is slight, the quantity of text is miniscule, and the placement of these 37 words is at the least prominent position (i.e. the end of the article).

I was not aware that Wikipedia's articles on medical organizations are supposed to follow a cookie-cutter format. Medical organizations can differ from each other. You mention the American Dental Association, but have they taken any position on abortion and euthanasia? Our article on the American Dental Association says that they have endorsed fluoridation, so do you think this article on RCOG must describe RCOG's position on fluoridation?

I will revert the deletion of material that has been in this article since 2006, because there is no consensus for removing it permanently, as you urge. You are the only person who has taken that position, Severa (KC urged temporary removal).Ferrylodge 05:01, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

P.S. I notice that our article on the American Medical Association includes asection on its "political positions" that is six-hundred eleven (611) words in length.Ferrylodge 05:27, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

I still support temporary removal as stated before. Just because I was grossly mistaken about one thing does not mean I said I support insertion. Only the striked comment is the thing I took back. Please do not read more into my words than what I say. I will specifically say "we should include x" if I feel that way. If I striked the comment Of course, I agree with the temporary removal, that would be a different matter. But I didn't. I hope you understand. Thanks.-Andrew c 13:11, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
OK, thanks for clarifying. By the looks of it, you and KC are the only two who support temporary removal. Severa urges permanent removal. Apparently, myself, Mama Geek, and Francis Tyers are comfortable with leaving it in.Ferrylodge 13:21, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

Just thought I'd toss in my two cents. I think the 37 words should remain.

  • First, This is a stub, not an article. A stub implies that it requires expansion, and the content already there is just a framework. Obviously, there is a lot to be added to the first sections on the organization's history and mission. The only reason the 37 words are in contention is because the expansion of the earlier sections has not yet been done. Instead of fighting over their inclusion, why don't the interesting parties expand those sections?
  • Secondly, I think those 37 words are pretty important, because they convey information about the current attitude and ideals of the organization on matters that are of great importance to many Wikipedia readers. The reason some topics are controvertial is because people care deeply about them, one way or another. The organization's taking a position at all seems to imply that they also care about these issues, and I think it does them a disservice to leave it out.
  • Finally, this is content that has been in the article for a long time. Deletion should only be done, therefore, with consensus.

MamaGeek (talk/contrib) 15:39, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

I can find the most recent news on RCOG, which is Royal College Of Obstetricians And Gynaecologists Statement On PMETB's National Trainee Survey 2006, a study on how stress affects the unborn, and (a) study(ies) on fetal alchohol syndrome, but that is What's Hot, not an encyclopedic overview. That will take time to do. The two entries removed are neither Hot nor pre-eminent in their activiites/mission/etc. KillerChihuahua?!? 21:18, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
Adding: the RCOG has a three year strategy plan which we might be able to use to expand the article with slightly.[1] This is the third year of that plan (2004-2007). KillerChihuahua?!? 21:22, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
The two entries removed are both hot and pre-eminent among RCOG's political positions as reported in the news media. Describing these facts and these truths as a "smear job" is inaccurate. And to suggest that this alleged "smear job" will cease to be a "smear job" once further information is included in the article makes very little sense. Longstanding material has now been removed from the article against consensus.Ferrylodge 00:41, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

Ferrylodge, have you any concept of how inane your statement reads? Do you understand what a smear job, or attack article, is? KillerChihuahua?!? 06:01, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

With people like you in Wikipedia, there will never be any shortage of inanity, I'm sure.Ferrylodge 06:23, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
I'll ignore the insult, and take it that you don't understand, and/or understand how what you wrote reads. And to suggest that this alleged "smear job" will cease to be a "smear job" once further information is included in the article makes very little sense
There is a reason this section is called "balance" and the section above, also dealing with this, is called "undue weight". This content makes the article a smear job simply because it is two tiny bits of what RCOG says and does, which are very probably the two most controversial and potentially negative things which they state and do. This is undue weight of negative information, or potentially negative information. It is not representative of what RCOG does; it is a tiny fraction. So yes indeedy, adding balance, and most especially doing our best to ensure the content added is RCOG's primary focus, or the primary activity, or what they're primarily known for, rather than two tiny bits blown out of all proportion - thus presenting a skewed and inaccurate view of RCOG - will indeed ensure the article ceases to be a smear job. Do you understand now? KillerChihuahua?!? 06:51, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I think I do understand. The material that you have deleted against consensus is as follows:
"In England, RCOG opposes 'a reduction in the time limits for abortion'.[6][7] And, the RCOG submitted a proposal to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics calling for discussion of permitting the euthanasia of severely disabled newborns.[8]"
You agree that these are "very probably the two most controversial" things which they state and do. By any objective criteria, they consequently belong in this article now. Your assertion of a smear is patently absurd. These sentences would only be considered in a negative light by people who oppose abortion and euthanasia, respectively. They would be considered in a positive light by people who support abortion and euthanasia. And that will remain true no matter how long or short the article is.
Perhaps you can refer me to the Wikipedia guideline on smear jobs, or perhaps you are making it up as you go along?Ferrylodge 07:25, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
WP:NPOV. KillerChihuahua?!? 10:51, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

Consensus has not yet been reached over whether these lines constitute "undue weight." For the time being, I have put them back with a POV disclaimer template. I think that is the fair way to handle it, considering how long the information was there before anyone began to have issues with it. We need to reach consensus before removing them, but they do need the disclaimer until we do. Will that satisfy you, KillerChihuahua, until we come to some kind of resolution?—The preceding unsigned comment was added by MamaGeek (talkcontribs) 12:16, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

I'm not happy about it, as I feel it is seriously biased to present that alone, however the neutrality tag does inform readers there is a concern about the neutrality. I don't know if you noticed that this content was added may 25 by Ferrylodge, so it is hardly "longstanding" nor was any consensus to add it acheived. Hence placing the onus on those who protest the addition is against Wikipedia practice, which places the onus on those wishing to add material. KillerChihuahua?!? 13:46, 5 June 2007 (UTC)


Having had a look at the cited sources and a couple of other news reports, I've amended the controversial section to present an NPOV and have split it to have a separate para for each issue. Perhaps a section heading might be in order, and others may wish to consider if undue weight is being given to these two issues. In the meantime I've removed the POV tag. .. dave souza, talk 21:23, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

This suggestion from Dave Souza is very old now. Here's the text he proposed. Aside from whether that stuff is now a bit dated, I do want to say that it seems a bit lopsided, with too much about RCOG's support for legal abortion and/or euthanasia. If you look at the Google News Archives for RCOG here, you'll find a wide variety of subjects covered, way beyond abortion and euthanasia. So, if the abortion and euthanasia stuff is to be included, it would have to be in the context of a broad description of news coverage of RCOG.
At one time, an editor at another article described RCOG as a "pro-choice group."[2] That seemed reasonable to me, but then another editor commented that such phraseology connotes that being pro-choice is a primary aspect of RCOG's mission (which it is not), and so that other editor said it might be better to simply mention that RCOG takes a pro-choice position, just like it takes positions on lots of other issues.[3] I tried that, and all hell broke loose even including a total ban from Wikipedia[4] (I honestly have never understood why the same editor who made the suggestion to me subsequently criticized it as disruptive). In retrospect, though, I don't think we should mention their pro-choice or pro-euthanasia stance, except in the context of a broad description that parallels media coverage. So, while I appreciate your suggestion, Dave Souza, I think it's too lopsided.
For the same reasons, I fully support this recent revert by KillerChihuahua.Anythingyouwant (talk) 02:38, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
Actually, maybe all of a sudden I do understand, after all these years. If we're mentioning RCOG in an article about abortion, then it's okay to say that RCOG takes a pro-choice position, though not okay to say that RCOG is a pro-choice group. However, in a general article about RCOG, it's only okay to say that RCOG takes a pro-choice position if we also describe their other positions that the media has found notable, and it's never okay to say in the general RCOG article that they're a pro-choice group given that that's not one of their primary missions. Simple as pi.Anythingyouwant (talk) 05:47, 25 May 2010 (UTC)