Conscientious objection to participation in abortions to be clarified

A new parliamentary report – Freedom of Conscience in Abortion – has found that there is a “widespread and increasing pressure” @ on participation in abortions, due in “large part…to inadequate observance of the current legislation.” The inquiry was carried out by the All Party Parliamentary Prolife Group (APPPG) and includes the accounts of 150 witnesses over a four-week consultation. Participants came from organisations such as the British Medical Association (BMA) and the doctors' trade union but noticeably there were no contributions from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, who are reported to have “refused to give evidence to the enquiry.” The “terms of reference” for the inquiry can be found on the website @:

The “Conscience Clause” refers to section 4 of the Abortion Act (1967), which requires that no person should be under any obligation – contractually or legally – to participate in any treatment authorised by the Abortion Act (1967) about which they have any moral or conscientious objection.  The reason for its inclusion was to ensure that healthcare providers could still fully engage with providing suitable healthcare, but not have to participate either directly or indirectly with provision of abortions. The report expresses concern about the way this clause has been interpreted and comes up with nine key recommendations @ and, as the Christian Medical Fellowship blog summarises, the report “…has done a great service to the healthcare professions and NHS, not simply in its detailed and helpful analysis of current practice, but also in making specific achievable suggestions about how the problems with the conscience clause can be addressed.”