MPs are demanding a criminal investigation into evidence that dozens of doctors pre-signed abortion forms.
Eleven MPs wrote to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police calling for a Scotland Yard inquiry, after the General Medical Council failed to take action against 67 doctors found to have been involved in pre-signing.
Under current abortion laws two registered medical practitioners must certify that they are of the opinion, formed in good faith, that at least one of the legal grounds for abortion exists.
The MPs’ letter said: “As it is impossible to come to a medical judgment without knowing any of the details of a patient’s case, pre-signing is considered illegal.”
“Normally where criminal conduct is suspected of a doctor, the GMC’s fitness to practise panels will suggest a public hearing, enabling police involvement where appropriate.
“However, none of the cases of pre-signing were referred for public hearings, no serious internal disciplinary action was taken, and no information was passed on to the police for investigation”.
An investigation by the Care Quality Commission in 2012 found that 67 doctors had illegally signed blank abortion consent forms, and despite them all being referred to the GMC, none faced disciplinary action.
Those who backed the letter include the former Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox, fellow Tory MPs David Burrowes and Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Labour’s Robert Flello and Jim Dobbin.
Tory MP Fiona Bruce also added her signature – she told The Telegraph: “A gravely concerning disconnect has developed between the grounds and procedure Parliament has authorised for abortions and what appears to be happening in practice.
“With increasing concerns about reports of girls being aborted on the ground of their gender, with abortions being carried out up to birth for treatable disabilities, and with the apparently criminal pre signing of abortion certificates on such a widespread scale, urgent action should now be taken by the Department of Health to address these issues”, she added.
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said: “When we became aware of the matter we required those doctors who had pre-signed forms to provide us with formal assurances that they would cease this practice immediately – were they to breach this undertaking there would be serious consequences.”
He said that despite the change in the way abortions are carried out and the roles professionals play, doctors are obliged to obey the law.
A Daily Telegraph editorial backed the call for a criminal investigation, commenting: “Doctors are not above the law”.
“There is no reason why anything related to abortion should be so politely brushed under the carpet.
“Whether one agrees with legalised abortion or not, the way a termination is conducted should be in full accordance with the law of the land.”