Medicine And The Media

Harsh decisions behind closed doors

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7086.1054 (Published 05 April 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1054
  1. Sandra Goldbeck-Wood
  1. BMJ

    BBC 1, Panorama “Behind Closed Doors,” Monday 24 March

    Few doctors in obstetrics and gynaecology enter the specialty with any enthusiasm for performing abortions, yet it is a duty few escape. An awareness of the sepsis and death that have always attended illegal abortion mingles with a realisation that an unpleasant job shunned by one doctor must, none the less, be performed by a colleague. Together these arguments persuade most gynaecologists to accept, reluctantly, the role of abortionist. It was a discussion of the ethical ramifications of this role which formed Panorama's documentary “Behind Closed Doors.”

    The programme began with a more or less familiar rehearsal of the arguments surrounding social termination of pregnancy: the woman's rights, the fetus's rights, the problems caused when unnecessary delays lead to more complicated or expensive procedures (one interviewee whose drug dealer partner changed his mind about parenthood paid £645 in a private abortion clinic), and the little that science can tell us about fetal stress responses and when they begin. Dr John Parsons …

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