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Government abortion guidance "weak" and "fails to uphold law" says SPUC

27 May 2014

London: The government’s newly-issued guidance on abortion is "weak" and "fails to uphold the law", says the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) the UK’s main pro-life political organisation.

The Department of Health last week issued guidance on various aspects of abortion law and practice, such as sex-selective abortion, pre-signing of abortion authorisation forms and doctors’ assessment of abortion cases.

Paul Tully, SPUC’s general secretary, commented: "The government’s new abortion guidance is weak and fails to uphold the law – it endorses weak restrictions on some practices but promotes an underlying agenda of abortion-on-demand.

"We welcome the government’s messages that abortion on the grounds of sex alone is wrong; that doctors must not pre-sign abortion authorisation forms; and that doctors cannot form a proper opinion of a woman’s condition without ever seeing her. These messages, however, are neither ground-breaking nor robust.

"The Department of Health and the abortion industry have a close and ugly relationship. The Department contracts out millions of pounds’ worth of abortions to the private sector, which is keen to provide abortions (NHS-funded) to all comers. The Department also acts in Parliament as the defender of the pro-abortion lobby, briefing ministers and promoting policies that undermine the law," said Mr Tully.

See below an in-depth commentary by Paul Tully.


Paul Tully, SPUC’s general secretary, can be contacted on 07939 178719 or 020 7820 3127. SPUC's communications department can be contacted on:

In-depth commentary on government abortion guidance and the Sexual Health Team (SHT) of the Department of Health

Paul Tully, SPUC’s general secretary:

"The guidance published today shows the grip that the pro-abortion Sexual Health Team (SHT) has on abortion policy.  It arrogantly presumes to assert that abortion on grounds of the baby's sex is illegal while allowing the abortion industry to carry on aborting other 'unwanted' babies – despite the evidence of harm to women resulting from such abortions.

"Aborting babies because they are girls is the only bad reason according to the feminist thinking which dominates the SHT's agenda.  Aborting so-called unwanted babies in general – in particular those of the poor, racial minorities, and un-wed mothers – should carry on uninterrupted according to the SHT.  Those with financial or other ulterior interests in promoting abortion industry – including medical bodies like the RCOG and the wealthy private abortion clinics - will not have their activities significantly curtailed.

"The SHT shows contempt for the wishes of Parliament, which clearly requires that mental or physical health risks of continuing a pregnancy outweigh the risks entailed in abortion.  We have always maintained that abortion is bad medicine and is neither necessary to avoid risks to physical health nor helpful in reducing harm to mental health.  Abortion on physical health grounds is now hardly ever proposed.  Nearly all abortions, apart from those on disabled babies, are performed because two doctors claim (supposedly independently) that there is a risk to mental health.

"The SHT guidance is wrong in law where it states (paragraph 13) that the threshhold of risk to mental health for legal abortion is simply a matter of the doctor's opinion.  The law states that the threshhold of risk is the comparison between continuing the pregnancy and aborting the baby.  The doctor must form an opinion as to which risk is greater.  He is not free to decide that a minor or minimal risk to mental health justifies an abortion if he knows the damage to mental health of undergoing an abortion would be the same or greater.

"Yet every week, hundreds of doctors sign statutory forms certifying medical grounds for abortion which the department of health's own evidence review has shown to be false.  Today's documents indicate that the Secretary of State will continue to use his discretion to grant licences to abortion clinics where doctors do not bother even to see or talk to mothers - often in desperate straits - before signing away the lives of unborn children."

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