In response to an ongoing effort in the U.K. to allow abortions to take place up to birth, a massive group of doctors and medical students signed a letter denouncing the controversial campaign.
Over 1,400 medical associates addressed the British Medical Association, saying that a change in policy won’t reflect the opinions of all the medical staff or majority of women in Britain – and that it’s also an extreme measure that could damage the BMA’s reputation.
“We represent a variety of positions on the issue of abortion, but believe this motion is out of keeping with both our duties as responsible professionals and the expressed wishes of British women with regards to the legality and regulation of abortion,” the letter reads.
The motion was debated on June 27 at the association’s annual meeting. If passed, the measure would implement an increase in the accessibility of abortions from the current law of 24 weeks, potentially offering abortions from anywhere between 28 weeks until birth.
The proposal would also allow for abortions to be offered for any reason, a distinct difference from the current law which requires previous consultation.
In their letter, the medical staff cited a recent study from ComRes, which showed that a large majority of woman in the U.K. would in fact rather have abortion restrictions increased rather than decreased.
The letter also referenced the intense backlash received by the Royal College of Midwives, which announced last year that it supports abortion under any reason, even up to birth.
“Many commentators on this controversy were pro-choice but recognized that taking this position was an extreme move, and the outrage caused reputational damage both to the Royal College of Midwives and to the wider midwifery profession.”
Professor John Campbell, a 35-year long member of the BMA as well as a supporter of the letter, wrote a June 26 article to the Daily Mail, noting that the damages from abortion have already been tremendous and that the new measure pose an even greater threat to women and children.
Since the procedure was legalized in the U.K. in 1967, over eight million unborn infants have been aborted, Campbell said. He then noted that interpretation of the country’s abortion law has shifted from defense of a women’s safety to abortions on demand.
But increasing the availability of abortions ultimately threatens the mental health and well-being of women, especially if they are not counseled through the process properly, Campbell said.
He cited recent news of a 22-second consultation given to a woman at a Maria Stopes center, saying many women choose abortion “simply because they were not given enough time to talk it through.”
The BMA is the trade union for doctors, and works to promote medical and health legislation in the U.K. Established in 1832, there are now an estimated 156,000 doctors and even more medical students.
The effort to lessen the country’s abortion restrictions was debated by 500 members, but the results have not yet been made public.