The British Medical Association has voted in favour of a motion committing it to campaigning for abortion on demand, for any reason, up to 28 weeks.
The motion was passed by around a two-thirds majority at the BMA’s annual representative meeting in Bournemouth on Tuesday morning.
In the run-up, around 1,500 doctors rebelled against the motion, signing a letter denouncing it as “extreme” and warning it puts the BMA’s reputation at risk.
“If these measures were to be implemented, it would mean the introduction of abortion for any reason, to at least 28 weeks and possibly up to birth,” the letter said.
“As doctors and medical students we strongly urge the British Medical Association to reject this extreme motion.”
One doctor told the Mail on Sunday he expected many colleagues to quit the union if the motion was passed.
Dr John Campbell, Professor of General Practice at Exeter University, said: “It would be outrageous if this was passed and would lead to many doctors reviewing their position in respect to membership of the BMA. I would do that and I have been a member for 35 years.”
A ComRes poll in May found only one per cent of women would support a move to extend the abortion time limit above 24 weeks.
“This extreme motion does not reflect the moderate and reasonable views of the majority of British women and the general public on this issue, and would severely damage the reputation of both the BMA and the medical profession,” the doctors’ letter added.
Responding to Tuesday’s vote, Dr Anthony McCarthy of Society for the Protection of Unborn Children said: “The BMA has betrayed all who take seriously healthcare for pregnant woman in favour of an extremist agenda in line with the abortion industry’s laissez faire ‘up to birth’ attitude to ending the lives of unborn children.
“Against overwhelming public opinion and against those who support women by refusing to trivialise abortion, the BMA has today undermined the consciences of doctors who refuse to follow an ‘autonomy’ agenda that has nothing to do with good medicine and everything to do with ideology.”
Clara Watson, spokeswoman for charity Life, said: “This outcome is astonishing and appalling. The BMA have sided with the abortion industry’s dream
for abortion on demand for any reason, and now stand opposed to the 70% of women in this country
who wish to see the time limit for abortions reduced.
“The heart of the BMA’s mission is to provide guidance to doctors and to advocate greater care and
support for patients in crisis. But instead, they have brought the medical profession into disrepute by
voting in favour of such an extreme and radical motion.”