Intended for healthcare professionals


BMA annual meeting: Doctors who carry out abortions should not face criminal sanctions, says BMA

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 28 June 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j3116
  1. Abi Rimmer,
  2. Rebecca Coombes
  1. The BMJ

Abortion should be decriminalised in respect of health professionals administering abortions in clinical practice and for women who procure and administer their own abortion, the BMA has said.

Delegates at the BMA’s annual representative meeting in Bournemouth voted on Tuesday 27 June in favour of a motion that also said that abortion should be regulated in the same way as other medical treatments, such as no longer requiring the agreement of two doctors.

Proposing the motion, GP Coral Jones, said, “Decriminalisation is the removal of abortion from the penal code. Doctors and women will no longer face the threat of imprisonment for procuring or performing abortions.”

She added, “Following the decriminalisation of abortion, providers will be regulated by the General Medical Council’s standards of good medical practice, including consent and confidentiality. Central collection of anonymised abortion data will continue, and health professionals will have a statutory right to conscientious objection.”

Abortion is a crime under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act. The Abortion Act 1967 creates an exception, making abortion on licensed premises lawful under specific conditions.1

When two doctors agree that continuing the pregnancy is a greater risk than the abortion to the life or health of the mother or any …

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