More Doctors Refusing to Perform Abortions

Experts have warned of an imminent crisis in the NHS as increasing numbers of doctors refuse to carry out abortions.

According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, there has been a big rise in the number of doctors who are "conscientious objectors".

About 190,000 abortions take place in England and Wales annually.

The NHS pays for four out of five - but half of these are carried out by private sector providers, which have doubled since 10 years ago.

Abortion is legal in Britain up to 24 weeks, however it can occur later if doctors believe the baby has a severe disability or if the mother's life is at risk.

Experts say the decline in the number of NHS doctors willing to perform abortions stems from their ability to "pick and choose" the areas they train and specialise in - and very few opt to carry out terminations when they can choose other areas such as fertility medicine.

Kate Guthrie, head of abortion services in Hull and a spokeswoman for the RCOG, said: "We have always had conscientious objectors, but more doctors now are just wanting to something different and don't see abortion care as attractive." But she said it was a necessary service.

"The Abortion Act came in because women were prepared to do anything rather than have unplanned pregnancies. Nothing has changed.

"If abortions are not available safely, women will turn to unsafe ways of procuring abortion."
She suggested a solution to the current crisis might be to increase the involvement of nurses in providing abortion.

But Josephine Quintavalle, of the anti-abortion group Alive and Kicking, said: "We welcome this development.

"There is a sensitivity in this country that there are too many abortions, and this obviously will impact on doctors.

"We should be working together to make abortions rare."

And Julia Millington of the ProLife Alliance said: "We have been hearing for some time now that young doctors, in particular, do not want to work in this field.

"Those choosing to go into medicine presumably do so because they want to cure sickness and disease not end the lives of innocent human beings."

In February, the Pope called for believers to reject abortion. The Pope said that life was something given by God and was not to be cut short under the "guise of human compassion".