Doctors are flouting the law amid moves to further liberalise access to abortion, says Lyndon Bowring Executive Chair of CARE
It’s an extremely sensitive subject and one seldom spoken about. But recently abortion has been in the news – with the actions of some clinics and doctors particularly coming under scrutiny.
Not many people realise the 1967 Abortion Act did not actually make abortion legal, it just dealt with extremely serious situations – when there was real risk to a woman’s life or health.
Sadly, however, since it became law, more than 7.5 million babies have been lost through abortion in the UK and the figures indicate that in 99.5 per cent of cases there is no such risk to the mother. We effectively have abortion on demand in this country despite important safeguards enshrined in the law.
A crucial intention of the Abortion Act, which was restated by the Government in 1999, is that two doctors must see a woman to confirm that the specific legal grounds for an abortion are met. But this requirement is being widely disregarded. In fact, the General Medical Council (GMC) has admitted that dozens of doctors are known to have pre-signed abortion referral forms without ever seeing the patient. Inspectors found piles of these at some clinics – in one case they were pre-signed by someone who had left four years before!
It is still unclear how many forms were signed by each doctor and when, and what grounds they gave. But he or she could know nothing what whatsoever about a pregnant patient attending the clinic weeks, months or even years later.
A Freedom of Information request brought this illegal activity to light and the Care Quality Commission investigated the situation in 2012. Although allegations were made against 67 doctors, the GMC has closed every case! Not a single person has been called to account, referred to the police or been struck off the medical register.
Read the full story and much more in July’s issue of Direction Magazine
The Health Minister Earl Howe and Public Health Minister Jane Ellison MP have both conf irmed that pre-signing abortion referral forms is a clear breach of the law and they are calling for action.
But despite their stand on this issue there are moves afoot to further liberalise access to abortion. The Department of Health published interim guidance last autumn; that doctors would no longer need to see the patient but can just form a judgement based on information passed on to them by other staff – which may only be a nurse or counsellor. They are now deciding whether to confirm this change of policy, which would make abortion even easier.
Abortion is serious, we are destroying unborn human beings made in God’s image. Although many see it as the most practical, if difficult, solution to an unwanted pregnancy it is also likely to cause physical, emotional and ethical problems to women and their families, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals and to society as a whole.
CARE is monitoring this situation and working closely with Parliamentarians and others to ensure that the law is justly upheld.