Hospital Dr News

BMA to lobby the Government to decriminalise abortion legal framework

The BMA has called for the complete decriminalisation of abortion and for women to have access to terminations on demand.

The union agreed to lobby the Government to abandon the current legal framework, which requires an expectant mother to convince two doctors an abortion is necessary to protect her long-term health.

It provoked outrage among pro-life groups and some doctors who are concerned that decriminalisation could “open the floodgates” to sex-selective terminations, as well as putting women in abusive relationships at risk of coercion to end their pregnancies.

More than 1,500 doctors and medical students had signed an open letter urging the union to oppose the move, while Christian Concern said the motion showed “shocking disrespect for human life”.

The vote was passed by more than two thirds following a two-hour debate, and should strengthen the hand of politicians in favour of reform.

In March, a private members bill to scrap criminal sanctions, introduced by Labour’s Diana Johnson, received its first reading in the House of Commons but had to be abandoned due to the general election.

According to Government statistics, there were 190,406 abortions carried out in England and Wales last year, slightly lower than the five-year high seen in 2015.

At present, the Abortion Act 1967 permits terminations in limited circumstances up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy, the point at which a baby has a good chance of surviving outside the womb.

If there were changes, as envisaged by the BMA, medics would not face criminal sanctions for providing, or women for procuring, an abortion in any circumstances, at any stage in a pregnancy.

BMA member and campaigner Wendy Savage said it was unfair that some doctors withheld information about the gender of unborn babies due to fears over sex-selective abortions.

There is no evidence sex-selective abortion is a problem in the UK, she said.

Savage added that forcing women to give birth to a child of a sex they do not want to have “is not going to be good for the eventual child, and it’s not going to be good for [the mother’s] mental health”.

Conservative MP Mark Field is reported as saying: “Suggesting that women should be able to abort babies solely because they happen to be either male or, much more usually, female, is utterly abhorrent.

“To have someone like Wendy Savage with her extreme views at the heart of the BMA is a very worrying sign. The majority of people in this country, even those who support abortion, think sex-selective abortion is a step too far.”

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One Response to “BMA to lobby the Government to decriminalise abortion legal framework”

  1. Tom Goodfellow says:

    I think this is the most deeply shocking statement I have ever heard from an organisation representing doctors. Whatever happened to humanity? Does the life of a child within the womb have no value or meaning?

    If you can abort a child at any stage of pregnancy why not kill it after it is born if “it’s not going to be good for the mother’s mental health”, this is the logical conclusion of such thinking.

    Hang your head in shame any doctor who voted to support this dreadful motion by the BMA!

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