In a nutshell
A vote on whether there should be a public register of doctors who conscientiously object to abortion. MPs had liberty to vote according to their conscience.
On 21st June 1990 the House of Commons debated an amendment to the 1967 Abortion Act which would have established a public register of pro-life doctors.1 The amendment stated that it applied to “Any registered medical practitioner who has a conscientious objection to participating in any treatment authorised by this Act…” (i.e. pro-life doctors). The amendment went on to require that for these doctors the Health Secretary was to provide “…for the keeping and maintaining of a register of the names of all those persons who have given notification and such register shall be open to public inspection”.2
The stated purpose of this amendment was to allow easier access by patients to those doctors willing to recommend abortion, so that abortions could be procured earlier in the pregnancy.
A very serious effect of this dangerous amendment would have been to stigmatise doctors for holding to a pro-life position. It would have seriously prejudiced their employment and promotion prospects.
It was defeated by 117 votes to 230.
How we recorded the vote
- Voted against a public register of pro-life doctors
- Voted for a public register of pro-life doctors
- Abstained or was absent on the vote for a public register of pro-life doctors