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Nursing leader wrong to promote abortion, says SPUC

14 July 2005

Nursing leader wrong to promote abortion, says SPUC 14th July 2005 The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has challenged Dr Beverly Malone General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing to clarify whether the RCN wants the "practitioner" status of nurses to be extended to performing abortions, and whether the membership of the college endorses abortion on demand. Dr Beverly Malone, RCN General Secretary, said in a statement following the recent BMA vote on abortion that "the RCN believes that the discussion on abortion should concentrate on ways to increase access to services in early pregnancy and allow nurses greater involvement in providing services." (emphasis added) This could be interpreted as a demand for nurses to be solely responsible for performing abortions. Dr Malone also claimed that primary care nurses: "are concerned first and foremost with helping women with unwanted pregnancies. The discussion about foetal viability distorts this principle." Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, said: "This statement begs two important questions. Firstly, is Dr Malone asserting that it is ethical and legal to abort a baby simply because at some stage in pregnancy she or he is "unwanted"? and secondly, why does Dr Malone want to exclude the status of the unborn baby from the abortion debate? Women who seek abortions are often concerned about the how developed their baby is and what the fetus can feel. "Dr Malone has used her position to add the RCN's voice to the growing campaign to entrench abortion on demand and to persuade nurses to fill the gap left by the increasing number of doctors unwilling to perform abortions. The Government clearly favours these proposals, and the political reality is that any attempt, however well-intentioned, to review the law on late abortions will almost certainly result in even less legal protection for unborn children and vulnerable women through the enactment of these and similar proposals. "The RCN's statement also says that it 'respects' the statutory right of its members not to be involved in abortions: this amounts to a betrayal of the RCN's Royal Charter commitment: '[t]o promote the professional standing and interests of members of the nursing profession.' It is clearly against the professional interests of nurses with a conscientious objection to abortion to be asked to kill unborn children, yet it appears that the College will not promote, or even support them - merely 'respecting' their legal right - which doctors and employers have to do in any case. Whose side is the RCN on? Why won't it stand up for nurses with a conscience?" concluded Mr Ozimic. Teresa Lynch, a lecturer in nursing in a London hospital, said: "I am a long-standing RCN member and there is no agreed consensus position of the RCN on abortion. I believe that there is no foundation for Dr Malone's implication that the promotion of easy access abortion and of nurse-abortionists is nursing policy. As a nurse and nursing lecturer, I reject abortion because nursing is about caring, not killing."

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