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One GP in three could quit over early abortion plans

By Lilian Anekwe

Up to a third of GPs are threatening to quit their practices if they opt to provide early medical abortion under Department of Health plans, Christian doctors are warning.

At least eight areas of the country are considering providing abortion in general practice, after a DH study found abortion in community settings would be feasible.

A GP practice in Wolverhampton already provides an abortion service, another in Newcastle is set to be launched in the spring and an application for a practice in Basingstoke is with the Healthcare Commission and the DH for regulatory approval.

Several PCTs are also considering striking deals with the British Pregnancy Advisory Service to use GP surgeries as premises for terminations in women less than nine weeks pregnant.

But there is concern the rollout could be halted by outrage among a significant proportion of the profession.

Dr Andrew Fergusson, a former GP and head of communications at the Christian Medical Fellowship – which counts 2,000 UK GPs among its members – told Pulse: ‘I can't imagine any more than a handful of our members would work in practices that offered abortions. They do not want to become garage mechanics of the body.'

A recent survey suggested a third of GPs would refuse to work in a practice offering abortion and two thirds thought it would increase terminations.

Dr Martyn Walling, a GP in Spalding, Lincolnshire and a GP advisor to the BPAS, said there was likely to be a backlash by anti-abortion groups, but there were ‘great benefits' to offering abortions in GP surgeries.

‘It's a very safe technique and if you liaise with hospitals I can't see any problems with it.'

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