'Abortion skills' training for medics prompts concerns for pro-life students

(Photo: Unsplash/Luma Pimentel)

The Christian Institute has raised concerns about the right to conscientious objection after the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) said it would teach and assess "abortion skills". 

In its 'Better for Women' document, the RCOG is calling on the General Medical Council (GMC) to "review the Undergraduate medical curriculum to include the importance of abortion care to students". The GMC is the official body that all doctors in the UK must be registered with. 

The RCOG added it would "teach abortion skills as a part of its core curriculum and assess those skills through examination".

The Christian Institute fears that pro-life students who do not agree with abortion could be "frozen out" of the RCOG, membership of which is required for doctors to specialise in obstetrics and gynaecology. 

Ciarán Kelly, of the Christian Institute, criticised the Royal College for "squeezing out pro-life students".

"RCOG's 'Better for women' document references abortion over 100 times; conscientious objection not once," he said. 

"The College risks shutting out pro-life medics. Members should make their concerns known.

"Its report claims to be 'Better for women', but the reality is abortion is just the opposite."

The document also voices support for changes to regulations to allow women to take both abortion pills at home.  At the moment, women are allowed to take the second pill, misoprostol, at home.  The first one, mifepristone, has to be taken at a clinic. 

Other calls in the document include the introduction of legislation to impose buffer zones around abortion centres that would stop pro-life vigils from taking place, and making the morning-after pill available to under-18s for free. 

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has strongly criticised the document. 

Antonia Tully, campaigns director at SPUC, said she was "appalled" by the recommendation to allow women to take both abortion pills at home. 

If approved, she said that the changes could put vulnerable women at even greater risk.

"It completely neglects the seriousness of abortion, reducing it to a tick-box exercise. Women and society need to take the issue much more seriously," she said. 

She continued: "The RCOG seems determined to deceive women into thinking that abortion pills are safe and simple. They are neither.

"They are powerful drugs designed to kill an unborn baby. This policy will drive vulnerable women, often coerced into abortion by abusive men, even further under the radar."

She added: "Studies show the harmful physical consequences of abortion pills. Our concern is that these will be increased when women are given these pills to take away from a medical setting."