More than 600 doctors have condemned one of the country’s top medical colleges over plans to back abortion on demand.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is set to vote on endorsing the “decriminalisation” of abortion in England and Wales. However, only 33 members of the RCOG’s council will vote on the move, despite the organisation having around 6,000 members.
Professor Lesley Regan, who heads the RCOG, believes abortions should be treated the same as any other medical procedure, and recently likened the practice to removing a bunion.
Currently, abortions are illegal in England and Wales unless two doctors agree continuing the pregnancy would pose a risk to the mother’s physical or mental wellbeing.
Under the college’s proposal, a mother would need the consent of just one doctor, and could seek a termination for any reason.
Now a group of 650 doctors have signed a letter Professor Regan, rejecting her “extreme” views and criticising the decision not to allow members a vote on the issue.
Between 30 and 40 doctors who have signed it are members of the college, while the others practice in other fields of medicine.
The letter, reported in the Daily Mail, says:
It is completely unacceptable that all members of the RCOG have not been given the opportunity to vote on this significant change in policy and you have refused to release the wording of the motion until after the general council have voted on this motion. As doctors and medical students, we object to this new extreme position being forced upon members of the RCOG.
“We represent a variety of positions on the issue of abortion, but believe this motion is out of keeping with both our duties as responsible professionals and the expressed wishes of British women with regards to the legality and regulation of abortion. This move to introduce a radical abortion law is being promoted by a small group of campaigners with extreme views on abortion.
The letter adds that while the members of the council are entitled to their convictions, they should not “impose their agenda on the RCOG and risk severely damaging its reputation as a professional body”.
“We, the undersigned, wish to state publicly that any policy which seeks to remove abortion from its current legal framework does not represent us or our views.”
Dr Max Pemberton said Professor Regan’s position has nothing to do with medicine.
“It’s a political statement — an alignment with a particular liberal ideology that states that abortion should be available on demand, no questions asked,” he said, adding: “For feminists to politicise abortion in this way, and to insist that everything a woman wants she should get, regardless of the ethical issues, is nothing short of outrageous.”