"Unwitting stooge" of abortion extremists: BMA votes for decriminalisation
27 June 2017
The BMA has "a moral duty to speak out against abuses of ethics and human rights" - but has voted to strip rights from the unborn.
The British Medical Association's (BMA) membership has voted to make the decriminalisation of abortion official policy.
Delegates at the meeting (which can be viewed online) voted in favour of motion 50, proposed by Dr Coral Jones of the City & Hackney Division, which calls for a change in the law, effectively decriminalising abortion on demand, for any reason, up to 28 weeks.
Human rights abuses?
In his opening report, Dr John Chisholm, who chairs the BMA medical ethics committee, said that the BMA has "a moral duty to speak out against abuses of ethics and human rights". However, when it came to summing up the debate, he only spoke about the arguments in favour of the motion. Dr Peter Saunders of the Christian Medical Fellowship tweeted: "John Chisholm has misled the #ARM2017 about both conscience and upper limits as both would fall with the abortion act if decriminalised."
The BMA represents two-thirds of Britain’s doctors and delegates had been instructed to read a 52-page discussion paper which claims to be neutral, although it has been jointly prepared by several of the doctors in favour of decriminalising abortions including Professor Wendy Savage and Professor Emily Jackson, a radically pro-choice medical lawyer.
Professor Savage, who has previously said she supports sex-selective abortion, was one of the medics speaking in favour of the motion.
Listen to women
Several young female doctors and medics spoke out against the motion, with many pointing out that polling shows women want more restrictions on abortion, not less. "If we trust women, let's actually listen to them" said one delegate. Others argued that deregulating abortion would put women at risk - for instance "women in abusive relationships wouldn’t be protected". Another speaker also pointed out the practical arguments against the motion, asking: "do we care so little about women and their unborn babies that we would pass such a ill-thought motion?"
One opposing speaker placed the debate firmly in the context of the wider campaign to remove all restrictions on abortion. "Make no mistake, this motion is part of an organised campaign to change UK law...This motion is not coming from a groundswell of opinion amongst BMA members. No, it's coming from a very small minority of extreme campaigners. Please RB, don't make the BMA the unwitting stooge of these extremists."
In the run up to the vote, around 1500 doctors and medics signed an open letter opposing the motion.
Commenting on the news, Dr Anthony McCarthy of SPUC said: "The BMA has betrayed all who take seriously healthcare for pregnant woman in favour of an extremist agenda in line with the abortion industry’s laissez faire 'up to birth' attitude to ending the lives of unborn children. Against overwhelming public opinion and against those who support women by refusing to trivialise abortion, the BMA has today undermined the consciences of doctors who refuse to follow an ‘autonomy’ agenda that has nothing to do with good medicine and everything to do with ideology."
News in brief: