Letter to my MP…………………
I write as a very concerned Constituency resident to oppose, point blank, the liberalisation of the Abortion Law of this Country without those same liberal interpretations of that Law being exposed and tested within both Houses of Parliament; and wish to ascertain if you, as my M.P., support my opposition and hopefully raise your concerns in Parliament?
When the Abortion Act was first made law in 1967, there were guides covering both the judgement under which abortions could be allowed, and the rules which allowed those same abortions to be carried out. Under the Act an abortion could only be performed by a ‘registered medical practitioner’ (ie. a doctor) and only when two registered medical practitioners were of the opinion, ‘formed in good faith’, that certain conditions applied.
About 97% of all abortions are currently performed on grounds ‘that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family’. The two certifying doctors are required to carry out this balancing of medical risk and it is implicit in the legislation that they would meet with the woman to make an assessment about whether these medical conditions applied. How otherwise could they carry out their statutory duties ‘in good faith’?
The Labour Government clarified these procedures in 1999, when they stated ‘Under the Abortion Act 1967, pregnancies are terminated to protect health. Other than in an emergency to save a woman’s life, medical practitioners must give their opinions on the reasons under the Act for the termination following consultation with the woman.’
In other words, two individual doctors must confer with the woman seeking the ending of her pregnancy. At no time since has any Health Secretary approached Parliament to ask, require debate or even approve alteration to this requirement.
I now learn that Shadow Health Minister Andrew Lansley, speaking on the 12th May 2008, wished to remove the need for the two doctors rule when he said “ I therefore hope that the House will consider whether the requirement for two doctors to consent to an abortion being performed, and the restrictions on nurses providing medical abortions, need to be maintained” but this departure from the strict interpretation of the law was never debated or repeated. However, four years later as a member of the Co-alition Cabinet, he secretly issued new ‘interim arrangements’ to independent abortion providers which dispensed with the two doctor’ requirement. Under Lansley’s new arrangements, it was no longer necessary for two doctors to see and examine the woman. One apparently would do (that being the natural reading of ‘not both’). The re-issued Code of Practice states ‘We consider it good practice that one of the two certifying doctors has seen the woman, though this is not a legal requirement’; and further states ‘Members of a multidisciplinary team (MDT) can play a role in seeking information from the woman.’ So, one interpretation of the new Guidance would be that neither doctor need to have spoken to the prospective abortee, and information may even be accepted from a nurse, as member of the Team!
The Department of Health is just about to issue the new advice to both NHS and Independent abortion providers, and Parliament has never been asked if they like what they see laid before them!
I ask if you, as my MP, can sit easily while a Cabinet Minister rewrites the Law, without those same re-written passages being subject to scrutiny on such a delicate and contentious issue?
h/t to christian medical comment