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November 2017

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The RCOG votes to decriminalise abortion

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has voted to support the decriminalisation of abortion. Alongside the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Midwives, the RCOG will now lobby Government for a change in the current Abortion law. The vote was taken by 33 senior council members despite the RCOG having 14,000 members, fellows and associates. Prior to the vote a letter was signed by more than 650 doctors objecting to RCOG president Lesley Regan's extreme position on abortion and also to the members' lack of participation in this important vote.

The RCOG has not advocated to change the current 24-week abortion limit, but it does want these restrictions to be governed by professional regulations and not criminal law. This would mean that a doctor who carried out an abortion later in a pregnancy would not face any criminal charges. Presently, there is a requirement that two doctors legally approve an abortion but the RCOG would like to remove this requirement. Professor Regan has stated that decriminalisation does “not mean deregulation” and she has said “I am pleased that the Council of our College has voted in support of removing criminal sanctions associated with abortion," and “I strongly believe that the College has a responsibility to protect women’s health by ensuring access to this key healthcare service.” (As quoted by the Telegraph)

The vote has been widely criticised by pro-life groups such as SPUC and LIFE. Dr Anthony McCarthy from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children commented saying: "Today the leadership of the RCOG has betrayed its members, women and their babies, and the medical profession. By supporting a campaign to trivialise abortion, ie a lethal attack upon an unborn child, that leadership has betrayed Hippocratic principles and opened the door to a laissez-faire and in effect deregulated abortion industry....Prior to the vote, hundreds of doctors signed a letter protesting the motion, and the fact that a mere 33 members of the College would be permitted to vote on it. Professor Regan's morally and medically cretinous comment comparing abortion to getting 'your bunions sorted' sums up the arrogance of an elite which does not speak for doctors generally or for the vast majority of women." (As quoted by SPUC). 

Clara Campbell, Life Spokeswoman, said: “It is shocking that a mere handful of RCOG representatives have decided such a crucial RCOG policy, while their vast membership were not given a vote. If the measures voted through were to be implemented, and all legal sanctions associated with abortion were removed, there would be no law stopping abortion up to the 7 month of pregnancy, and potentially up to birth if the Infant Life Preservation Act was scrapped also. This is an extreme position made with secrecy behind closed doors. Last year, the Royal College of Midwives were slammed by the public and their membership after using shady and undemocratic tactics to adopt a position of decriminalisation. The public have been outraged that RCOG President, Lesley Regan, compared abortion to the removal of a bunion in a national newspaper. It is an insidious and insulting comparison and shows she is out of touch with both the public and the rest of the medical profession. The RCOG has long allied itself with the abortion industry, even promoting abortions overseas. This needs to be recognised by those in Parliament who will experience greater pressure to open the floodgates to abortion on demand in response to this vote. Despite the current UK legal restrictions on abortion, we have seen scandalous health and safety failures at abortion clinics prompting the Government to impose ratings on them.” (As quoted by www.lifecharity.org.uk)

https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/news/rcog-backs-decriminalisation-of-abortion/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/22/pregnancy-doctors-back-abortion-demand-no-criminal-sanctions/

https://www.spuc.org.uk/news/press-releases/2017/september/rcog-votes-for-decriminalisation-betrays-members-women-and-babies

https://lifecharity.org.uk/news-and-views/rcog-side-abortion-industry-vote-abortion-reason/