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HomeNewsCaroline Farrow: BMA’s pro-abortion stance is based on ideology not evidence

Caroline Farrow: BMA’s pro-abortion stance is based on ideology not evidence


British doctors appear to have abandoned their fundamental principle of ‘first do no harm’, following the decision of the British Medical Association to campaign for full decriminalisation of abortion for any reason up until 28 weeks, a full 4 weeks later than the current limit.

If administering a lethal poison directly into the heart of 28-week-old baby, one whom with a little bit of medical support would be quite capable of surviving outside of the womb and likely to go on to live a healthy and fulfilled life, is not doing grievous harm, then I don’t know what is.

Neither is subjecting a mother to a late term abortion, one in which she has to endure the process of labour, only to give birth to a deceased infant, even if she was adamant that she did not want the child, necessarily in her best interests, let alone those of the child.

What on earth were the BMA thinking, because their decision to decriminalise abortion was one solely based on ideology and not any medical evidence. Indeed it is a GP’s role to determine whether or not a woman’s mental health is, on the balance of probabilites, likely to be so adversely affected by pregnancy and childbirth as to necessitate an exemption from the law which holds that abortion still remains an act of child destruction.

GPs may be medically qualified, but clearly they’ve forgotten their basic anatomy lectures, if they collectively believe that a 28-week-old baby is not actually a human child. The business of when life begins is indisputable scientific fact; as every single embryology text book points out, life begins at conception. The business of whether or not to accord the same value to unborn human life is purely philosophical and not a medical matter. A GP’s job is to make a sound assessment of a woman’s mental and physical health in order to ascertain whether or not abortion may be appropriate.

In well over 98 per cent of cases this decision is taken purely on the grounds that if a woman says that it is what she wants, then it must be the correct thing to do. An approach that is wholly inconsistent with every single other medical discipline. Patients can express their wishes in terms of the type of treatment that may wish to receive, but there is no other field of medicine in which a patient’s wishes are the only thing taken into account when determining the correct course of action, especially when they are not suffering from any pathology that actually requires treatment.

Pregnancy is not a disease that requires curative therapy. That’s not to deny that pregnancy can sometimes exacerbate pre-existing conditions, or potentially in rare case endanger the long-term health or life of a woman, but where this happens it’s not the case that the unborn child is something that the woman needs to be rid of, in order to survive. It’s that the symptoms and side effects that accompany pregnancy have the potential to cause harm. A  symposium of gynaecologists and obstetricians studying maternal health in 2012 ruled that abortion was never medically necessary to save the life of a mother.

Unwanted or unplanned-for pregnancy is a social problem which attempts to utilise a medical solution. Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Morning Live, Dr Matthew Piccaver, a GP, claimed that most women presenting for abortion in his surgery had already thought long and hard about the decision to abort, but with the greatest of respect, thinking long and hard about something does not automatically qualify it as being the correct decision. By admitting that he takes a woman’s statement that she has thought long and hard about what to do at face value, Dr Piccaver betrayed a dereliction of duty shared by most doctors who are happy to sign off on a woman’s abortion, by not carrying out any detailed assessment of her mental health, which is still required by law.

A woman who is in an abusive situation, who fears for her life should she continue with a pregnancy, could tell her GP that she has thought long and hard about the situation, as could a young girl who is the victim of a grooming gang.

My own experience is that GPs are far from impartial when it comes to mistimed or unplanned pregnancies. On one occasion I turned up at my GP 6 weeks pregnant with my third child, when my second was only 10 months old. All I wanted was some anti-emetics to stop the constant vomiting and enable me to be able to function, whereupon he strongly urged me to consider abortion and to make up my mind quickly in order for him to put arrangements into place. There was no compelling medical reason to abort, aside from a side effect, which while gruelling, was nevertheless temporary.

The pro-choice lobby likes to pretend that abortion-related PTSD does not exist, and yet only this week, following the sad news that singer Charlotte Church has miscarried her baby, the Telegraph carried this article relating to miscarriage PTSD, which occurs even when the miscarriage happens at an early stage. It is not a great leap of imagination to note that if women experience trauma related to the physical ordeal of miscarriage, then they are just as susceptible to abortion-related mental health problems, especially if they were ambivalent about whether or not to abort in the first place.

A GP surely ought to judge individual cases of women presenting for abortion only after they have followed a  thorough physical and emotional evaluation, including whether or not a woman’s mental health is so endangered by a pregnancy that it necessitates destroying her unborn child.

Doctors need to be aware of the huge level of trust placed in them by their patients and remember that their opinion can hold a huge amount of sway, especially in the cases of vulnerable patients. As the recent Com Res poll demonstrates, the view of the BMA is wildly out of step with that of the general public, who can see no justification for putting unwanted infants to death.

Abortion laws exist to recognise the humanity of the unborn child and to protect vulnerable pregnant women from exploitation. Perhaps it is because the abortion industry has been able to break them with impunity, including operating unsafe clinics and performing sex selective abortions, all with no legal consequences, that the BMA has decided that such laws are pointless.

After all, no-one wants to risk losing their job for signing off on the abortion on the grounds that the baby is a girl, or because they haven’t the time or the inclination to check whether or not the teenager might secretly be desperate to keep the baby but is being pressurised by her parents. Much better to allow it for any reason for as late a stage as they can get away with. It saves on the time needed to be spent with the patient, paperwork and rules out the risk of prosecution.

No wonder BPAS released a statement expressing delight at the vote. Abortion up until 28 weeks no questions asked. That’s a whole new revenue stream. Now all they need to do is lobby for conscience rights for doctors and midwives to be removed. After all, someone’s going to need to deliver all those extra dead babies.

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Caroline Farrow
Caroline Farrow
Columnist for the Catholic Universe

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