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Poll indicates UK doctors' concerns over abortion

4 May 2007

In a poll of 309 family doctors in Britain, 24% said they did not sign abortion referral forms and 19% thought that abortion should not be legal. Ann Furedi of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service discounted the poll as being too small to be representative. [Sky, 3 May and Telegraph, 3 May] One such doctor, Dr Tammie Downes from West Cornwall, said that, when women came to her seeking abortion, she gave them all the information they needed, and encouraged them to discuss their decision with someone else. About one third of the women she talks to decide to keep their babies. [Daily Mail, 2 May] The body which represents family doctors could review its rules on conscientious objection in the light of the survey. Dr Ann McPherson of the Royal College of General Practitioners was quoted as saying that doctors should not be allowed to opt out because of their beliefs. Abortion was part of the job. Both the college and the British Medical Association asserted their support for legal abortion. [Guardian, 3 May]

Pro-life organisations in Britain have warned that a $400 test which can tell an unborn baby's gender at six weeks could lead to more abortion. Life and the Pro-Life Alliance both warned that children could be aborted because their sex was not the one the parents wanted. Gender may be determined through scanning at 20 weeks and some hospitals will not disclose that information. [Sun, 4 May] An SPUC spokesman said: "Information about unborn babies can help parents bond with their children, but we'd be worried if it was used as a pretext to destroy them."

It is asserted that Amnesty International has secretly changed its policy on abortion from neutrality to one which regards the procedure as a right. Mr Ryan Anderson of First Things is reported as saying that Amnesty's restricted-access website contains pro-abortion policy and that text on the same site forbids publication for the time being. [LifeSite, 3 May]

Controversy continues about the practice in five Leicestershire schools of providing morning-after pills to girls without parental consent. Mr Andrew Robathan MP, whose constituency includes the Lutterworth school which has dispensed the highest number of pills for schools in Britain, said the situation was a depressing reflection on modern society. Mr David Tredinnick MP, called the practice sensible. The head teachers of all the schools have defended the policy. A spokesman for the Leicestershire Teenage Pregnancy Partnership claimed that teenage pregnancies in the county had reduced by nearly a fifth since 1998, and remain below the national average. [Leicester Mercury, 2 May]

A lawyer has been appointed at the request of Ireland's Attorney General to represent the rights of the unborn child of a 17-year-old girl who has taken legal action to be allowed to go to Britain for an abortion. The girl's mother will also be represented at the proceedings. [Belfast Telegraph, 2 May]

Nine out of 10 Republican presidential contenders reportedly want to see abortion made illegal in the USA. The views emerged in a debate in California, with just Mr Rudy Giuliani appearing ambivalent. [Guardian, 4 May] Senator Hillary Clinton, a pro-abortion Democrat contender, is scheduled to address a Catholic charity event in Chicago. [LifeSite, 3 May]

A Somali woman is on trial in England for aborting her child at seven and a half months. Ms Maisha Mohammed, 22, of Manchester is said to have conceived outside marriage and it is alleged that she falsely claimed that she had miscarried. The charge, which she denies, is of child destruction and the case continues. [Manchester Evening News, 3 May]

Health and religious authorities in the United Arab Emirates are considering allowing abortion for conditions such as thalassaemia and sickle cell anaemia. Abortion is presently allowed if the mother's life is in danger. [Gulf News on Middle East Online, 3 May]

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