One in three GPs ‘would quit’ over easy abortions

A third of GPs would refuse to work in a surgery offering early medical abortions, a new poll shows.

The survey of 480 doctors by GP magazine also found that 61 per cent thought abortion should not be on offer in any community practice.

Just under half want some reduction in the upper time limit for abortion, which is currently 24 weeks.

And three quarters said the process of obtaining an abortion should not be made easier by cutting the number of doctors’ signatures required from two to one.

Pro-abortion groups have been pushing for some time for early medical abortions – where pills are taken to induce a miscarriage up to the ninth week of pregnancy – to be available away from hospitals.

Last month it emerged that the Secretary of State for Health had quietly approved plans for such abortions to take place in several community surgeries around the country.

But more than half the GPs questioned said such plans would increase the number of abortions taking place. The UK’s annual toll has already passed 200,000 and looks set to continue rising.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, from the Royal College of GPs, warned that abortions would be “trivialised” by becoming available in doctors’ surgeries.

Campaigners warn that early medical abortion is “not a harmless procedure” and should not be offered away from hospitals.

The procedure involves taking two tablets, one to kill the developing foetus and a second to expel it from the mother’s body.

Women are often sent home alone after taking the second tablet to wait for the induced miscarriage to take place.

A study carried out in New Zealand last year found that women who have abortions increase their risk of suffering with mental health problems by 30 per cent.

Dr Trevor Stammers, a GP in South London and chairman of the Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF), said he would never work in a practice providing abortions.

“Medical abortions are not a harmless procedure. Uterine rupture and bleeding, though rare, will occur and GPs should rightly be reluctant to take on the risk,” he said.

“I will play no part in brutalising women in such a way and I will do all I can to try to help women to see that abortion may not be the best way out in the long run.”

The Government warned that the poll was not representative of all GPs, although the CMF predicted that few of its 2,000 GP members would be willing to work in a surgery offering abortion.

“They do not want to become garage mechanics of the body,” said CMF spokesman and GP, Andrew Fergusson.

Last year the Department of Health commissioned a group of researchers, including one prominent pro-abortion campaigner, to assess the safety of offering early medical abortions away from hospitals.

Satisfied with the conclusions of this “short but intense” study, it opened the way for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service to perform such abortions at surgeries in Wolverhampton and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

More NHS Trusts are expected to follow suit in the coming months, including Hounslow, Islington, Sandwell in the West Midlands, Kirklees in West Yorkshire and Somerset.

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