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11 / 02 / 2009 - GP survey calls whole Department of Health abortion strategy into question, says CMF
The Christian Medical Fellowship says that today's nationwide survey of GPs confirms that allowing early abortions in GP surgeries would radically change family medicine and will not be in the best interests of women with crisis pregnancies.
The GP Newspaper's survey of 480 UK GPs found a third would refuse to work in a surgery or polyclinic offering abortion, more than half believed offering such abortions would increase the total rate and 61% did not believe practices should be offering such services at all.
The survey also revealed that most GPs do not favour further liberalisation of the abortion law. Nearly half want the current 24-week limit lowered, with one in ten calling for it to be cut to 15 weeks or less and 75% did not want the numbers of doctors' signatures required for abortion reduced from two to one.
Dr Trevor Stammers, CMF Chairman and a GP in south London had previously said to GP Newspaper that he would 'certainly be forced to resign from practice if the PCT [Primary Care Trust] compels any building in which I practise to carry out abortions. I will not be alone in doing this.'
He added today: 'This extensive survey confirms my position and shows that many GPs are so seriously concerned about extending abortion to GP premises that the whole Department of Health strategy is called into question. Many GPs object to being involved in abortion and family medical practice is simply not the right context for it. Rather than this proposed extension of abortion into every local community, CMF supports both access to counselling that is independent of abortion provision and increasing support services for women who wish to continue with an unplanned pregnancy. One in three women will change their minds about abortion if given time, space and support to make a fully informed decision about an unplanned pregnancy.'
CMF General Secretary Dr Peter Saunders said, 'If GP surgeries are to be used for carrying out abortions, what is that saying about family medicine? What confusion will this create in patients' minds when their “family doctor” is treating illness in one consulting room and ending life in another? This is abortion liberalisation by stealth and most GPs believe it will increase the number of abortions, including many where the women concerned might have chosen otherwise. The government must listen to the voices of front line doctors, most of whom do not believe GP surgeries should be offering abortion at all and many of whom would refuse to work in such surgeries. This move is both unwanted and unnecessary and should not be foisted upon GPs.'