An abortion clinic and pregnancy crisis centre has been told it must do more to diversify its clientele or risk losing its funding. The centre, based in Cambridge, has been given two months by the local council to attract patrons from underrepresented groups, such as the elderly, lesbian women, and men. If the clinic fails to improve, the council have warned they may withdraw public funding, as a result of failing to meet equality targets set last September for all bodies receiving financial support from local government.
Marline Swinn, the clinic’s director, has said she intends to appeal the council’s decision, while admitting that “very few of our clients are lesbian, and we have not treated a man during the eighteen years I have been working here.” Her staff “believe strongly in non-discrimination and would never turn away anyone who contacts us” but “should not be blamed” for the lack of diversity among their clientele, Swinn said.
Figures released by Cambridge city council show that well over 95% of those using the clinic last year were women aged between 16 and 50, while this group represents less than 30% of persons resident in the city.
Joan King, the Equality Officer for Cambridge city council, said these figures suggest room for improvement, in a statement released yesterday. “While we do not expect every publicly-funded service to attract exactly the same sorts of people, groups who are clearly only attracting patrons from one section of the community must do more to diversify their clientele. The council has a legal duty to ensure non-discrimination in all services to which it provides a grant. A service which largely or wholly only attracts young, heterosexual women obviously is not doing enough to justify receiving council money, and must work to improve its appeal to all groups in the community.”