Do we need a root-and-branch review of the Abortion Act? – Halsbury’s Law Exchange

Posted May 6th, 2014 in abortion, doctors, legislation, news by tracey

‘In a thoughtful piece in the Guardian, MP Sarah Wollaston calls for a review of the Abortion Act. She focuses on the decision by the General Medical Council (GMC) not to pursue Fitness to Practice proceedings against 67 doctors who had pre-signed, without assessing the women concerned, the forms used to authorise abortion. She concludes: “… it makes no sense to prolong outdated and paternalistic attitudes that only doctors can make judgments about whether the grounds for the Abortion Act are satisfied. It makes even less sense to leave the situation as it is now with doubts about the legal obligation for a doctor to have seen the woman to whom form HSA1 refers; clear guidance must be issued as to whether doctors may sign based on evidence from clinical nurse specialists. A change to allow clinicians other than doctors to certify directly would, however, require an amendment to the Abortion Act.
In my view, the act is no longer fit for purpose. This would be a good time for a wider review of the ethical arguments and public attitudes, and to establish a legal framework fit for the 21st century.” ‘

Full story

Halsbury’s Law Exchange, 2nd May 2014