The government has ‘smuggled in’ a nurse-led abortion service without it being discussed in parliament, Dr Peter Saunders has claimed.
The chief executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) said that, under the leadership of Prime Minister David Cameron, former health minister Andrew Lansley, working with abortion providers and senior figures at the Department of Health, has ‘presided over the largest liberalisation of abortion practice since the passing of the Abortion Act in 1967’.
Writing on the CMF website, Dr Saunders claimed that the interim measures were brought in without even all coalition party members being made aware of them.
According to Dr Saunders, the revised procedures were issued in summer 2012, in the last weeks of Conservative MP Mr Lansley’s tenure as health secretary, and posted on the DoH’s website in January 2013 without any notification.
It was not until Fiona Bruce MP asked a question in parliament on 5 March, which was recorded by Hansard, that the interim measures were mentioned.
Anna Soubry, MP for Broxtowe, who was answering a question about illicit terminations, referred to the approval of independent sector places to perform termination of pregnancy.
She said, ‘All places were re-approved from 1 September 2012, using updated requirements contained in Interim Procedures for the Approval of Independent Sector Places for the Termination of Pregnancy.
‘The updated version of the procedures sets out in greater detail the legal requirements around certification of abortions’.
She went on to say, ‘As part of the re-approval process, all places were required to describe the monitoring arrangements they had in place to ensure these requirements are being met. Later this year we will publicly consult on a further updated version of the procedures’.
Christian Concern (CC) has expressed dismay that the regulations were issued without any public notification or parliamentary debate.
In a newsletter, the advocacy group called on supporters to contact the Prime Minister, the current health secretary and their own MPs in light of the ‘disturbing revelations’.
The interim procedures that were issued to private abortion providers in 2012 indicated that it was no longer a legal requirement that a mother considering abortion actually see a doctor.
Andrea Williams, CC chief executive, said, ‘This is a very serious change. It opens the door for doctors to approve an abortion without ever seeing the woman requesting it and paves the way for nurse-led abortions.
‘This is a very significant line to cross. If it remains unchallenged, the seriousness of abortion in the eyes of the medical profession and the value of human life in the eyes of society will be further diminished’.