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Defending life
from conception to natural death


Doctors Urged To Stand Up In Defence of Unborn Babies and vote against BMA proposal

23 June 2017


Doctors are being urged to stand up for the rights of unborn babies when they are asked to vote on controversial proposals which could see abortion time limits being abolished.

The British Medical Association (BMA) will debate the decriminalisation issue at its conference in Bournemouth next week. The BMA represents two-thirds of Britain’s doctors and delegates have 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 Savage and Professor Emily Jackson, a radically pro-choice medical lawyer.

Ahead of the debate, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), the world’s oldest pro-life group, attacked the move and urged medics to defend babies in the womb.

Antonia Tully, SPUC Director of Campaigns, said:

“It is preposterous to suggest that the report under consideration could be regarded as balanced and fair.

“It certainly offers nothing which could be regarded as neutrality on unborn babies. It’s more like a declaration of war on children in the womb.

"The pro-abortion lobby are pushing for decriminalisation of abortion in Britain and in Northern Ireland because they don't care about the impact of abortion on women or refuse to look at what that impact is.  

“We really do care that women who have an abortion experience mental health problems 30% more often compared with women who give birth.  It matters to us that a study has shown that the risk of suicide is approximately six times greater after an abortion than after childbirth.    

"We are fighting the decriminalisation of abortion every inch of the way,” Mrs Tully continued.

“In October 2017 SPUC is holding a mass constituency-based lobby of MPs.  We are aiming for every MP in the country to hear first-hand of the dangers to women and babies of decriminalising abortion.  We want the firm commitment of MPs to oppose any moves to decriminalise abortion.

Sex selective abortion

Support for the move by doctors could lead to a call for women to be allowed to terminate their pregnancy right up until the due date – and for any reason whatsoever, including by sex-selection.

Dr Adrian Treloar, a representative for the Catholic Medical Association and a consultant in old age psychiatry said: “Decriminalisation can only increase the vulnerability of unborn children. Decriminalisation aims to enable access to abortion by removing safeguards. Given how often women suffer after abortion, decriminalisation will further increase the risks of harm to women. This proposal is bound to allow for sex-selective abortion which means babies will be aborted just because they are female.”

Not a medical treatment

Mrs Tully added: “Decriminalisation campaigners claim that abortion should be regulated like ‘any other medical treatment’ (so there should be no need for special grounds, time limits, authorisation by two doctors, and so on). However, procedures on patients are only ‘treatment’ when they are performed for medical reasons. In Britain abortions are performed for non-medical social reasons in 96-98% of cases, while abortion on grounds of foetal disability is not medically beneficial to either the mother or her baby.

“Ann Furedi, the CEO of BPAS, has gone on record acknowledging that the vast majority of abortions in the UK are performed not for medical reasons, but simply because the pregnancy is ‘unwanted’.

“Professor Sally Sheldon, a trustee of BPAS, who was thanked in Parliament by Diana Johnson for her help in preparing her Bill, has recognised that ‘in the vast majority of cases…the request for abortion is not grounded primarily in medical factors.’”

“Abortion supporters acknowledge that abortion is overwhelmingly non-therapeutic. This alone is enough to distinguish abortion from the vast majority of other procedures performed on patients.”

Abortion up to birth

Mrs Tully said: “Decriminalisation is well out of tune with the vast majority of people - 99% in a recent poll - who oppose abortion up until birth, which would almost certainly be the result if abortion was taken out of the criminal law.

“This demonstrates just how uneasy the general public are with current abortion legislation, and favour greater restrictions.”

Mrs Tully concluded: “We will be trenchant in our defence of unborn children.”

 Notes to editors:

  • The poll, commissioned by grass roots initiative Where Do They Stand, is the most extensive UK polling in the last decade on abortion and revealed that only 1% of the public favour abortion up to birth.
  • Official figures show that 190,406 abortions were carried out in England and Wales in 2016, a slight fall on the previous year. But there has been a significant rise in abortions among women over 30.
  • Key arguments against decriminalisation raised by SPUC include:
    • Decriminalisation is completely unnecessary
    • Diana Johnson's Bill -  just a first step towards removing all abortion restrictions
    • Proposals for decriminalisation are not representative of public opinion on the matter
    • Abortion is not like ‘any other medical treatment’
    • Abortion is bad healthcare for women
  • Recent moves to decriminalise abortion
    • In March the House of Commons voted by 172 votes to 142 to permit Diana Johnson, Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull North, to introduce a bill under the Ten Minute Rule Bill procedure, calling for the decriminalisation of abortion.
    • Although this bill made no more progress in that Parliament, it was part of a wider campaign to liberalise the abortion laws further.
    • In February 2016, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), Britain's largest abortion provider, launched We Trust Women, a campaign calling for all legal restrictions on abortion to be abolished.
    • In May 2016, the members of the Royal College of Midwives were signed up to support the BPAS campaign.
    • In February 2017, the British Medical Association (BMA) published its “neutral” discussion paper.

Contact us

Antonia Tully, SPUC’s Director of Campaigns, can be contacted on:

Anthony McCarthy, SPUC's Education and Communications Director can be contacted on:


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