Published: 5th December 2007
The Christian Medical Fellowship, Britain's largest group of Christian doctors, has today accused the government of 'stealth' liberalisation of abortion policy by early trialling of medical abortion in 'non-traditional' settings.
While the Health Secretary has legal powers, never previously used, to approve new settings, carrying out these trials in secret ahead of the anticipated Parliamentary debate on abortion confirms the stealth liberalisation of abortion policy.
At its annual meeting in June, the British Medical Association rejected calls to relax the current rules regarding where abortions can take place and for nurses and midwives to perform abortions. However, just last week, building on the Science and Technology Committee's controversial report, the Department of Health recommended not just these radical liberalisations but also limiting counselling and removing the requirement for two doctors' signatures, thus effectively advocating abortion on demand in the first trimester.
'We support the BMA's concern about safety issues concerning who performs abortions and where', said General Secretary Dr Peter Saunders, 'but we go further and ask what the Department of Health's real agenda is here? We suspect this is just one further step to home abortion.'
'At a time when there are 200,000 abortions a year in Britain, when almost one pregnancy in four ends in abortion, when one woman in three has an abortion, and when 6.8 million have happened since the law changed in 1967, it is astounding that the Department of Health is seeking to liberalise the laws even further.
'These proposals, misleadingly couched in the language of 'choice' and 'conducive environments', are intended to normalise a medical procedure where one life is intentionally ended. This will have the result of further trivialising abortion at a time when the vast majority of people feel something must be done to reduce Britain's already astronomical abortion rate.'
CMF believes carrying out abortions in GP surgeries will radically change family medicine and will make many GP patients and surgery staff feel outraged.
Dr Saunders said: 'If GP surgeries are eventually licensed for carrying out abortions, what is that saying about family medicine? What confusion will this create in the minds of patients when their 'family doctor' is treating illness in one consulting room and ending life in another?'
CMF believes women contemplating abortion need the information, support and space necessary to make a fully informed decision about abortion free from coercion or pressure. Rather than more stealth liberalisation, CMF supports, for the protection of both women and doctors, access to counselling that is independent of abortion authorisation and provision, along with a cooling off period, and more support for women who wish to continue with a so-called crisis pregnancy.
CMF is a member of the Alive and Kicking Alliance, representing eight organisations and over two million people, which is supporting amendments to the Abortion Act that will help to substantially reduce the number of abortions in the UK.
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.