31 January 2014

ACT NOW: Don't let abortion be further liberalised through the back door:

Dr Peter Saunders speaks to
the Telegraph about the
proposals (2m 4s) >
The Department of Health has launched a public consultation seeking views on its proposals to introduce wide-ranging changes that will fundamentally liberalise the way in which the 1967 Abortion Act is interpreted and implemented by independent sector abortion providers.
It has updated the range of procedures (known as the “Required Standard Operating Procedures” (RSOPs)) that private abortion providers, such as the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), must follow in order to be authorised to perform pregnancy terminations by the Secretary of State.

The proposed RSOPs will allow doctors to authorise abortions without examining, in person, women who are seeking an abortion.  They will also permit non-doctors (such as nurses) to perform terminations by administering abortion-inducing drugs provided that a doctor ‘decides upon, initiates and takes responsibility throughout the process”.
As such, the proposals significantly undermine the protections built into the 1967 Abortion Act, which specifically states that an abortion is illegal unless two doctors agree ‘in good faith’ that one of the grounds for an abortion under the Act have been met.  

Consultation: Simple to respond...

Please take a few minutes of your time to express your opposition to the proposals by completing this online survey >  
The deadline is Monday (3rd February), so there is very little time to respond.  If you are unable to reply in detail, please notify the Department of Health of your concerns by responding briefly to Question 1.  In addition to the points above, you could add that:
  • The 1967 Abortion Act deliberately provides for the close involvement of doctors in both authorising and conducting an abortion because of the seriousness of the procedure.  Removing doctors from the process of abortion and face to face contact with women will place their health at risk and is contrary to the spirit and letter of the 1967 Act.
  • There is already widespread abuse of the 1967 Act, with reports of doctors permitting abortions for social reasons, performing sex-selective abortions and pre-signing abortion forms.  The Department of Health should prevent further abuse by demanding strict compliance to the 1967 Act by medical practitioners, rather than allowing further liberalisation through the back door.
  • The Abortion Act expressly requires two doctors to certify that in their opinion, formed in good faith, a request for an abortion meets at least one of the grounds set out in the Act.  A doctor can only reach this opinion in ‘good faith’ if he examines the patient in person.
  • Abortion is a medical procedure that carries serious long-term physical and mental health risks to the mother.  As such, it must be performed by a registered medical practitioner (and not a non-doctor) as required by the 1967 Act.
  • Of the two doctors who approve an abortion, the Department of Health should require at least one to have specialist training in the field of mental health.
  • Given the serious risk to the mental health of the mother, it should be a mandatory requirement for all women to attend both pre and post abortive counselling. 
  • Counsellors should not be employed by the organisation offering abortion services as this would present a clear conflict of interest. 
Complete the online survey > 

Click here to read the consultation document >

View the updated Required Standard Operating Procedures >

Dr Peter Saunders of the Christian Medical Fellowship has discussed the proposals in an interview with the Telegraph.  Watch it here > 

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