Wednesday, June 06, 2007

British Medical Association Medical Ethics Committee on Access to Abortion

The British Medical Association's Medical Ethics Committee has issued a day or two ago a position statement on access to abortion in the UK. The organisation has been in favour of women's legal right to abortion since the 1970. I excerpt here the BMA's key opinions. In a number of key areas the organisation proposes to make access to abortion easier for pregnant women. This is quite significant, seeing that it comes immediately in the aftermath of public debate in the UK about the Roman Catholic Church's hierarchy clamouring to have abortion outlawed altogether. You can find the whole report here.

The MEC supports the revision of the Abortion Act 1967 so that, in the first trimester:
• women are not required to meet medical criteria for abortion
• the requirement for two doctors is removed
• suitably trained and experienced nurses and midwives may carry out both medical and surgical abortions
• as long as safety is ensured, premises do not need to be approved to carry out first trimester abortions.

The MEC believes:• that changes in relation to first trimester abortion should not adversely impact upon the availability of later abortions
• that health professionals with a conscientious objection to abortion should retain the right to opt out of providing abortion services, but should make their views known to patients and enable them to see another doctor without delay.

The MEC believes that the requirement for medical criteria should be removed for first trimester abortions.

The MEC believes that the requirement for two doctors’ opinions should be removed for abortions within the first trimester.

The MEC believes that the level of training and experience a person has is the most important factor in determining which procedures should be undertaken by which professions. The MEC has no objection, in principle, to nurses and midwives, with appropriate training and competence, carrying out abortions.

The MEC has no objection in principle to removing the requirement for premises to be “approved” for first trimester abortions and allowing medical abortions to take place at home where that is the woman’s wish.

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