A leading doctor has called for abortions to be decriminalised and made much more freely available.
Professor Lesley Regan (pictured here), president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), has said that abortions should be treated no differently from other ‘medical procedures’ – including something as simple as removing a bunion.
Next Friday the RCOG General Council will hold a ballot to decide whether the College should formally back total decriminalisation, which would put further pressure on the Government to overhaul the law.
The doctors’ union (the BMA), the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the ‘We Trust Women’ campaign by abortion industry leaders have already signalled their support for such a move.
Professor Regan said there had been a ‘societal shift’, particularly among medical professionals.
Of this there is no doubt.
The Hippocratic Oath, which graduating doctors used to take, says, ‘I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked nor suggest such counsel, nor in like manner will I give a woman a pessary to produce abortion.’ So most doctors today, by their complicity in abortion, are in direct breach of it, which is ironically the main reason the oath has fallen out of use.
The Declaration of Geneva (1948), adopted by the World Medical Association after World War II, originally read, ‘I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception, even against threat I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity’.
Perhaps most striking of all, the BMA affirmed in 1947 that ‘although there have been many changes in medicine, the spirit of the Hippocratic Oath cannot change’ and added that ‘co-operation in the destruction of life by murder, suicide and abortion’ was ‘the greatest crime’.
How times have changed.
From being the greatest protectors of innocent human life just 70 years ago, it seems that doctors have now become abortion’s greatest proponents and facilitators.
Last year more than 200,000 abortions were carried out in Great Britain; one in every five pregnancies ended in abortion. Each one was authorised by two doctors and carried out by another – the former were largely members of the BMA and the latter either qualified or trainee members of the RCOG.
In total, doctors in this country have intentionally ended the lives of more than 8.5million unborn children since the Abortion Act was passed in 1967, 50 years ago this year. That is five times the combined population of Glasgow and Birmingham.
Furthermore, no fewer than 98 per cent of these abortions were carried out on mental health grounds, although there is no evidence that the continuance of a pregnancy poses any greater risk to the mental health of a mother than an abortion.
In other words, as I have argued before on this blog, and on national media, 98 per cent of abortions in Britain are technically illegal. And the doctors who authorise them are knowingly making false statements on statutory documents and thereby perjuring themselves.
Abortion is still illegal in Britain under the Offences against the Person Act. What the Abortion Act did was to make it admissible only when a limited number of criteria applied.
But the law in Britain is largely flouted by doctors – with loose interpretations, unsigned forms, sex-selection abortions and bullying of conscientious objectors – and one of the main private abortion providers, Marie Stopes International (MSI), has been under investigation by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for substandard practice.
This situation exists because, although on paper the abortion law is still restricted, in practice when its boundaries are crossed doctors close ranks, the police do not investigate, the CPS does not prosecute, the courts do not convict and parliamentarians turn a blind eye.
Professor Regan thinks that abortion should be treated like the removal of tonsils or a bunion, requiring informed consent only.
At the moment, she says, ‘it’s the only medical procedure which requires two doctors’ signatures’.
But abortion is part of the criminal law precisely because the baby in the womb is a human being who, with its mother, deserves legal protection.
In other words the law upholds the key principle that ‘both lives matter’.
It is because every abortion takes a human life that abortion has been treated as legally different from any other procedure carried out by doctors.
Regan, and others like her, do not attribute any status to human life before birth. This is why it is not surprising that she holds the views she does – because, in spite of the fact that her medical knowledge should lead her in the opposite direction, she sees the unborn baby as simply ‘tissue’, not as an individual human life.
Accordingly, it is not at all surprising that she wants abortion ‘decriminalised’.
Regan is president of the RCOG, whose members, like those of the BMA and RCM, are knee-deep in abortion. We don’t know how many abortions Regan has personally performed in 30 years as a practising gynaecologist but it would be very interesting to find out.
Even if she has not been personally involved, it is not surprising that she would seek even less regulation and oversight for her colleagues than at present by pushing for abortion to be removed from the criminal law.
But how is this different from bankers asking for fraud to be decriminalised, taxi drivers seeking an end to speed limits, or tenants aiming to abolish rental contracts? Surely those who most stand to gain by a change in the law should have least say over how it is framed.
The law is there to protect the vulnerable from exploitation and abuse. In the case of the abortion law it aims to protect both women and their unborn children.
It is Parliament’s decision whether or not it should be changed – and they should be very wary of the ideological and other vested interests of professional groups (which are behaving like campaign groups) such as the BMA, RCOG and RCM.
It is still possible that the RCOG General Council will not follow Regan’s lead and vote instead to retain the status quo next week.