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Abortion plans sideline GPs who object

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill proposes amendments to the Abortion Act that are particularly irksome to me as a GP with mild to moderate pro-life views.

Specifically, removal of the right for doctors who object to abortion to see patients with unplanned pregnancies smacks of thought control by secular fundamentalists. This would deny my patients the opportunity to see their own doctor, whom they know and trust, at a very difficult and vulnerable time. The implication of the legislation is that unless prevented from doing so by an Act of Parliament, I would steer a patient down a particular path because of my own biased views.

This demonstrates a failure by our legislature to comprehend the nature of the doctor-patient relationship and the patient consultation. Our role is to advise patients on what is in their medical interests and to help them evaluate the pros and cons of a particular treatment or course of action. Decision-making is mostly shared - or in the case of a crisis pregnancy the woman's - and is certainly not dictated by her GP.

On conscientious grounds, I do not sign the HSA1 blue form to authorise an abortion as there is moral equivalence between authorising and performing an abortion. But I do refer women with crisis pregnancy to abortion services if they want to proceed with abortion and there's no suggestion of duress.

From Dr Julian Orton, Epsom, Surrey

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