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MAY 2014

Largest liberalisation of abortion practice since the passing of the Abortion Act


Prime Minister David Cameron has presided over the largest liberalisation of abortion practice since the passing of the Abortion Act in 1967. Under his leadership, former health minister Andrew Lansley, working closely with abortion providers and senior figures at the Department of Health, has managed to smuggle in what is in effect a nurse-led abortion service without the issue ever being discussed in parliament and without the knowledge of most of his own party colleagues.  How he managed it is outlined in Christian Medical Comment, 6      


This is an extract from the article:


“The Labour government’s ‘Procedures for the approval of independent sector places for the termination of pregnancy’, issued in 1999, were crystal clear:


“‘Under the Abortion Act 1967, pregnancies are terminated to protect health. Other than in an emergency to save a woman’s life, medical practitioners must give their opinions on the reasons under the Act for the termination following consultation with the woman.’


“In other words, both doctors were obliged actually to see the woman in making this health assessment.


“But Andrew Lansley, who was Shadow Health Secretary at the time, did not like this arrangement. So in May 2008, during the passage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, he advocated abolition of the two doctor rule in his Second reading speech. He later backed off in the face of some adverse publicity and an amendment aimed at dispensing with the two doctors was never debated or voted upon.


“However, four years later, as Secretary of State for Health in the Coalition government, he saw the opportunity effectively to dispense with the two doctor requirement by stealth. So in July 2012, without consultation and without informing parliament, he secretly issued new interim abortion procedures to independent abortion providers which effectively dispensed with the two doctor requirement.


“Under Lansley’s direction, the requirement that two doctors consult with the woman has been dispensed with in a stepwise fashion. Now the whole process can be carried out by nurses or other members of a multidisciplinary team who conceivably might even be clerical figures with no medical or nursing training at all.


“The two doctors will still add their signatures (without ever seeing the woman) but their involvement has been reduced to that of a perfunctory nod, effectively ticking a box.”


6 http://pjsaunders.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/david-cameron-presides-over-largest.html

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