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Most GPs pro-choice on abortion

Half of GPs think that the agreement of just one doctor should be enough for an abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy according to a new survey.

The survey, which was conducted by Marie Stopes International, also found that one in five GPs described themselves as ‘anti-abortion', with the rest broadly reporting their stance as ‘pro choice'.

That result is broadly in line with a Pulse survey in May this year which suggested 24% of GPs would not sigh abortion referral forms.

The new survey also found that considerably fewer GPs agreed that doctors should declare their moral position on abortion to a women seeking access to services than did in a similar survey in 1999.

GMC guidance on this issue gives GPs the right to opt out of treatment if they object because of personal beliefs or faith.

Dr Tony Calland, Chairman of the BMA's Medical Ethics Committee, explained that the right to opt out is enshrined in law via the Abortion Act 1967. He said: ‘The GMC guidance will always explicitly advise that GPs can opt out, but they must give sufficient informa-tion to patients so they can seek treatment somewhere else.'

On the issue of whether one or two doctors should agree for an abortion to take place in the first 14 weeks of preg-nancy he added:

‘The BMA's Medical Ethics Committee Annual Conference supported getting rid of the two doctors for the first trimester. The reasoning was that according to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists the risks to the mother [of having an abortion] are less than they would be having a normal pregnancy.'

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