RCOG Must Not Permit Abortion at 7 months or Up to Birth
IN BRIEF: The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) are having a vote this Friday to decide whether or not to campaign in favour of removing all legal restrictions on abortion. This would mean making abortion legal up to 7 months in pregnancy, and possibly, depending on how the law is interpreted, making abortion legal up until birth.
The vote is this Friday (22/09)
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) is about to take a vote on whether or not to join the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the British Medical Association (BMA) in their lobbying efforts to remove all legal restrictions and sanctions regarding abortion.
“Removing all legal restrictions and sanctions” means taking abortion out of the criminal law altogether. This entails that abortion would be legally available, without any restriction, throughout the first 7 months of pregnancy. It is clear that the main proponents of abortion are intent on the law going much further than this and intend on making abortion legally available up until the birth of the child.
In a recent interview, Professor Lesley Regan, Chief Executive of the RCOG approved such a move, comparing the performance of abortions to simply “removing bunions”. This extremist position is now being promoted by two leading medical bodies and could be joined by the RCOG.
The wider membership of the RCOG are not being given a vote on this decision and the RCOG are not releasing the wording of the motion until after the General Council have voted on the motion.
As with the RCM and BMA, the decision to support abortion up to birth, which could affect millions of people, is being made by a small group leading these organisations and does not have the support of its general members.
The RCOG’s proposal would mean making sex-selective abortion legal. It would be perfectly lawful to kill unborn girls for the crime of being girls. This is a revolting form of sexism which no civilised society should tolerate.
The head of the largest independent abortion provider (the British Pregnancy Advisory Service), Ann Furedi, has been very clear about what the removal of all legal restrictions on abortion actually means: "there should be absolutely no grounds for abortion whatsoever… there should be no legal upper limit, that is what taking it out of the criminal law means."
It’s hard to believe that there are people seriously advocating this practice, but unless we do something, the RCOG could support the removal of all legal restrictions on abortion –potentially allowing abortion up to birth –as their official position on abortion.
Not only is abortion up until birth deeply unjust, these proposals are also seriously out of step with what the public, and women in particular, want.
A ComRes poll earlier this year showed that:
• Only 1% want the abortion time limit raised to birth
• 70% of women would like the current time limit for abortion to be lowered.
• 59% of women would like the abortion time limit lowered to 16 weeks or lower.
• 93% of women want independent abortion counselling introduced.
• 91% of women want an explicit sex-selective abortion ban.
• 79% of general population want a five-day consideration period before abortion.
• 84% of women want improved pregnancy support for women in crisis.
• 76% of population want introduction of doctors to verify that women are not coerced.
• 70% of parents want introduction of parental consent for girls 15 and under to get abortions.
The vast majority of women do not want abortion up to birth. In fact, as can be seen, 70% of women want the abortion limit lowered. A clear majority want to see an outright ban on sex-selective abortion.
If all legal restrictions on abortion were removed, the abortion limit would be increased, sex-selective abortion would completely lawful, and there would be no legal requirement for doctors to assess a women before an abortion.
Additionally, from a legal standpoint, these motions appear to be extremely poorly thought through. By removing sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act (which is what removing all legal restrictions would involve), it would become extremely difficult to prosecute in cases of forced abortion.
In R. v Magira , for example, the husband wanted his wife to have an abortion. She wanted to keep the baby. So he went online and ordered abortion pills that he gave her without her knowledge or consent. In this case, fortunately, the pills did not work and the child was born healthy. The husband was convicted of attempting to procure an abortion and sentenced to three years in prison.
This conviction was entirely right and just – it is not controversial. Yet repealing sections 58 and 59 will make it much harder to prosecute cases of this kind, of which there are several every year.
Please sign this petition against any motions in the RCOG General Council Meeting which seek to remove all legal restrictions against abortion and therefore introduce abortion on demand, for any reason (including for sex-selection) up to 28 weeks, or even up to birth.