Published: 31st October 2005
Thursday 27th October marked the 38th anniversary of the Abortion Act, bringing it in to the public forum once again. Over 6 million abortions have taken place since 1967, with over 200,000 abortions now happening in Britain every year.
In a letter published in the Telegraph Robert Balfour, Chris Harrison and Peter Saunders, representing the Federation of Doctors who respect Human Life, the Guild of Catholic Doctors, and the Christian Medical Fellowship respectively joined together to criticise the BMA.
‘We write as doctors on the 38th anniversary of the Abortion Act to express grave concern about continuing support within the medical profession for late abortion.
We regret in particular the British Medical Association’s rejection of a lowering of the upper limit for abortion for healthy babies at its annual representative meeting in June, and believe that this happened as a result of the BMA misleading delegates about survival rates for premature babies.
The BMA briefing paper focused on the multicentre 1995 EPICure study, also featured on the recent Panorama programme Miracle baby grows up, which showed survival rates of 11% for babies born at 23 weeks and 26% at 24 weeks. By contrast data from 1996-2000 in a major Minnesota study published in the journal Paediatrics in January 2004 showed rates of 66% and 81% at 23 and 24 weeks respectively.
Abortions are currently allowed for healthy babies up until 24 weeks, and for seriously disabled babies until term. But advances in neonatal care, publicity about late abortions and new ultrasound technology showing babies ‘walking in the womb’ as early as 12 weeks have influenced public opinion. A recent YouGov poll has shown strong support for a reduction of the upper limit to 20 weeks with one in three women favouring a limit of 12 weeks or under.
By quoting statistics that are ten years out of date and ignoring changes in parliamentary and public opinion the BMA has behaved in a way that is both unprofessional and paternalistic.’
Philippa Taylor (CMF Head of Public Policy) 020 7234 9664
Steven Fouch (CMF Head of Communications) 020 7234 9668
Alistair Thompson on 07970 162 225
Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) was founded in 1949 and is an interdenominational organisation with over 5,000 doctors, 900medical and nursing students and 300 nurses and midwives as members in all branches of medicine, nursing and midwifery. A registered charity, it is linked to over 100 similar bodies in other countries throughout the world.
CMF exists to unite Christian healthcare professionals to pursue the highest ethical standards in Christian and professional life and to increase faith in Christ and acceptance of his ethical teaching.