Doctors speak out against the decriminalisation of abortion


At the end of June, the BMA sadly voted in favour of ‘Motion 50’ to decriminalise abortion. It is interesting to watch the videos of those doctors who spoke against the motion. On the link provided you can view a series of 5 videos, one for each of the speakers against ‘Motion 50’ (decriminalisation of abortion). Of particular interest, note how none of the visible audience at the AGM put up their hand when asked if they had read all of the briefing document about this motion.  The vote was taken by a small number of doctors were present at the AGM, despite a petition signed by 1500 doctors against Motion 50. The BMA is the trade union for doctors in the UK. Not all doctors are members and some have left the BMA following this vote. Nobody becomes a doctor to kill babies, yet that is what abortion is. A dead baby is your worst nightmare. It is very sad that doctors have voted in favour of a motion that promotes the taking of human life. “First do no harm” is a central principle in medicine. The sanctity of human life has long been recognised. In the Hippocratic Oath (~425 BC), which all doctors used to take, is the statement “I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to any woman a pessary to produce abortion. With purity and holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art.” The BMA wrote a “revised Hippocratic Oath” in 1997, changing the statement that previously prohibited abortion to “Where abortion is permitted, I agree that it should take place only within an ethical and legal framework.” Looking back at prior policies made by the BMA, the recent move to decriminalise abortion is another step down the road of many years of the BMA pushing to liberalise abortion (1). In 1984, the BMA sought to legalise abortion in Northern Ireland. The issue was brought up again in 2003, when the BMA requested the government to provide abortion for women in Northern Ireland. In 2006 the BMA states that it ‘deplored’ the re-criminalisation of abortion in South Dakota and would discourage American healthcare organisations from restricting their liberal abortion policy. In 2007 the BMA wanted to decriminalise first trimester abortions, so that they would be “available on the same basis of informed consent as other procedures”, without the requirement of the consent of two doctors.

For any patient outside of the womb, enormous efforts are taken and resources put into saving the patient’s life. A patient refusing life-saving treatment is spoken to again and again and efforts made to persuade a patient to change their mind. Suicidal patients are closely supervised and discouraged from committing suicide. Why are the same efforts not put into saving the lives of our unborn when their mother goes to a doctor asking for an abortion?

(1. BMA Policy Book 2016-2017)

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