More nurses and midwives should be trained to offer women abortions, according to the head of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).
Professor Lesley Regan wants to liberalise abortion law to make it even easier for women to access abortion.
This is the second time in recent weeks that the professor has sparked controversy over the issue. Last month, she caused outrage by saying that abortion should be treated no differently to minor procedures, such as removing a bunion.
Nurses and midwives can already hand out pills to cause an abortion but they must have the signed consent of two doctors.
Professor Regan wants to change the law so that only one doctor’s signature is required and train more health professionals to carry them out.
In an interview with The Guardian, she claimed women are facing “big barriers” while seeking an abortion.
She said the current law causes “unnecessary delays in women’s access to abortion services”.
Dr Anthony McCarthy, of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said: “Why is Professor Regan assuming abortion is such a boon to women that it needs to be instantly available with no time for second thoughts or offers of help?
“Professor Regan’s suggestions seek to trivialise abortion and show no desire to make it more rare or any realisation that abortion is even regrettable.
“Easier availability is likely to lead to increased use and an undermining of positive strategies that can assist women.”
Last month, RCOG voted to back abortion on demand, despite a revolt from its members.
The college’s leaders voted behind closed doors to back the decriminalisation of abortion at any stage in pregnancy.
The vote ignored the concerns of more than 650 doctors.
RCOG was responding to a campaign by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) which began in February last year.
The campaign wants abortion to be completely decriminalised and calls for the removal of two sections of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act.
The main doctors’ union – the British Medical Association – has backed the campaign, as has the Royal College of Midwives.
Neither group consulted its members beforehand.