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23 / 03 / 2012 - Precious Life welcome `spot-checks` on Abortion clinics
Precious Life has welcomed the news that Abortion clinics across England are undergoing unannounced inspections to check they are abiding by the law. [see: BBC News - Abortion clinics get spot-checks]
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley ordered the Care Quality Commission to carry out checks on around 250 clinics, which found around 20% were "non-compliant" with the law or regulations.
Director of Precious Life Bernadette Smyth said “This is another damning exposure of the evil abortion industry, which exploits vulnerable women to makes million of pounds every year, yet it’s completely unregulated, with so-called ‘doctors’ who are prepared to sign abortion consent form without even seeing the woman.
The illegal activities of abortion clinics came under the spotlight in February when the Daily Telegraph secretly filmed doctors and alleged some were agreeing to kill unborn babies when women did not want their child because of its gender.
Police are still investigating the newspaper's allegations.
But one doctor has been suspended and two more have conditions attached to their licence to practise.
The law says two doctors must certify an abortion, except in emergencies.
However, there is no requirement for them to have actually seen the woman - only that they should have seen and assessed the necessary clinical information about her case, which could have been taken by another doctor or nurse.
The requirement for two doctors' signatures was criticised as long ago as 2007, when a report by MPs on the Commons science and technology committee recommended it be removed because of the potential for abortions to be unnecessarily delayed.
But the concerns raised by the health secretary are that doctors are signing forms before any clinical assessment has taken place, which would mean they would not know the circumstances of the woman involved.
Mr Lansley said: "I am shocked and appalled to learn that some clinics - which look after women in what are often difficult circumstances - may be allowing doctors to pre-sign abortion certificates. This is contrary to the spirit and the letter of the Abortion Act.
"The process of pre-signing certificates where the doctor does not know who the woman is for whom that certificate may be used in relation to that abortion is in itself illegal. I am not prepared to tolerate a failure to respect the law."
He added: "The rules in the Abortion Act are there for a reason - to ensure there are safeguards for women before an abortion can be carried out. Abortion shouldn't be undertaken lightly and the right checks and balances must be in place."
CQC teams will now revisit clinics where there are concerns over practises.
The health secretary says doctors could face criminal proceedings or being sanctioned by their regulatory body. Clinics could also be stripped of their licences to provide abortions.
Bernadette Smyth concluded: "The fact that these so-called doctors will sign consent forms without even seeing the woman shows the utter contempt they have for both women and the law. All they care about is the money they take from these vulnerable women.
We welcome these inspections that will expose the illegal practises of the abortion industry. But every abortion is morally wrong and should be illegal. Precious Life will continue campaigning to have the 1967 Abortion Act scrapped and have full protection restored to unborn babies.”