By Gudrun Schultz

United Kingdom, June 7, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The British Medical Association is pushing for abortion on demand and permission for nurses and midwives to carry out abortions, in a briefing paper issued by the BMA ethics committee June 5.

The paper supports changes to the Abortion Act that would allow women less than three months pregnant to go directly to an abortion clinic without obtaining approval from two doctors, as is currently required. Under the proposed changes women in the first trimester of pregnancy would not have to meet any medical criteria for abortion—as the law stands now, women who want an abortion must indicate that continuing with the pregnancy would harm their physical or mental health.

The committee also recommended that experienced nurses and midwives should be allowed to perform both medical and surgical abortions with suitable training. Furthermore, the committee stated it would support allowing first trimester abortions in premises that had not received prior approval, so long as safety was ensured.

“The medical ethics committee considers that access to first-trimester abortions should be available on an informed-consent basis as with other medical procedures. Removing the current conditions will remove the legislative and administrative burdens created by the act that, in reality, do not stop women seeking abortion, but potentially expose women to delays, and consequently more costly and higher-risk procedures,” the paper stated.

While the Catholic Church officially opposes the changes, Peter Kearney, a spokesman for the Scottish Catholic Church, said the “abysmal” failure of the medical profession to uphold current legislation restricting abortion has already resulted in abortion on demand.

“The changes they are proposing would probably make little difference in reality since we do have de facto abortion on demand in this country,” Kearney told the Scotsman.

“The medical profession have failed quite abysmally to uphold the current legislation. Our view remains very clear on this, and that is that abortion is morally wrong and is not the answer to unwanted pregnancies.”

The issue will be debated at the BMA’s conference later this month, to evaluate the level of support among doctors across the UK.

British doctors are increasingly opting out of performing abortions, according to a release this spring by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

“Unprecedented numbers” of doctors are refusing to perform abortions for ethical and religious reasons, the release said, warning of a serious shortage of abortion services if the trend continues. Recent statistics have shown Britain’s abortion levels to be at an all time high, with one in three British women having an abortion in her lifetime. More than six and a half million babies have died from abortion since it was legalized in the country 40 years ago.

Despite the growing alarm over the shortage of abortionists, the RCOG said its view was that the current abortion law met needs, according to the Scotsman report.

See related LifeSiteNews coverage:

UK Doctors Refusing to Commit Abortion Alarm Royal College
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/apr/07041604.html