Pro-life doctor cleared by GMC

A Christian doctor who encouraged women seeking abortions to take time to consider other options was not doing anything wrong, says the General Medical Council (GMC).

Tammie Downes, a GP in Cornwall, was subject to investigation after the GMC received a complaint about her last year, thought to have been made by a doctor with links to the pro-abortion lobby.

Dr Downes refuses to sign abortion referral forms, but is happy to discuss other options with women who come to her seeking an abortion, including keeping the baby.

She estimates that one in three women changes her mind when given time to consider alternatives, and says that at least eight children are living today because of these conversations.

Dr Downes made her views known in an interview with the Daily Mail newspaper in May 2007.

Opponents then made complaints to the GMC, claiming she had inappropriately allowed her personal views to influence how she dealt with her patients.

Dr Downes said: “It was a worrying time and it felt completely unjust because I was sure that I was doing the job of a good GP – not something I should be suspended for.

“What they were accusing me of was ridiculous. However, I was definitely fearful that I might have to go to court.”

If the complaint had been upheld, Dr Downes risked being struck off the medical register.

However, the GMC has now confirmed that her behaviour did not constitute a breach of its guidelines.

She said: “I am carrying on as I have always done – offering women alternatives and helping them to think through the decision they are making.

“Doctors who say it is a woman’s right to have an abortion and tick the box without looking at the other options and implications of having an abortion are not doing the patient any favours.”

Dr Downes says it is crucial that doctors are able to give patients proper advice about all the options available to them without fearing vexatious complaints.

“Patients will get worse treatment if doctors are fearful of doing a good job of ensuring that people fully understand the processes they are going through.”

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