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0 - Protection of Conscience Project Library
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(Editorial) Therapeutic Abortion

British Medical Journal

British Medical Journal, BMJ
British Medical Journal

Extract
[Notes increase in abortion since change in law. Discusses abortion methods.] “In summary, when the decision has been taken to terminate pregnancy it is best carried out in the first fourteen weeks by a conventional one-stage evacuation or by vacuum suction, and later in pregnancy by abdominal hysterotomy. But therapeutic abortion is not a simple operation. Those who would extend the scope of legal abortion on purely social grounds would do well to remember that no method of terminating pregnancy is entirely devoid of risk. The operation is only as safe as the surgeon who performs it. Mishaps will occur, and they will be kept to a minimum only when operations are performed in well-equipped hospitals by skilled gynaecologists who are well aware of the dangers.”


BMJ. (Editorial) Therapeutic Abortion. Br Med J. 1968;4(5634):786-787.

(Correspondence) Requests for Abortion

PG Seed

British Medical Journal, BMJ
British Medical Journal

Extract
[suggests] the establishment of abortion clinics staffed by personnel adept at processing all cases referred. Doctors who claim conscientious objection could be assigned compensatory work in the present infertility clinics.


Seed P. (Correspondence) Requests for Abortion. Br Med J. 1968 Aug 24; 3(5616):499.

(Correspondence) Requests for Abortion

HB Bagshaw, TT Lee, J McAuley

British Medical Journal, BMJ
British Medical Journal

Extract
patients requesting abortions are taking up considerable outpatient time, sidestepping our long waiting-lists, and occupying valuable hospital beds-all these at the expense of the genuine gynaecological patients. . . At a recent count, one in five of the patients in our wards are cases for termination of pregnancy. Their increasing numbers have been an embarrassment to many medical and nursing staff who have conscientious objections, especially those working in the operating- theatre.


Bagshaw H, Lee T, McAuley J. (Correspondence) Requests for Abortion. Br Med J. 1968;3(5616):499.

(Correspondence) Risks of Abortion

K Vernon Bailey

British Medical Journal, BMJ
British Medical Journal

Extract
Although the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists considers that most cases will be referred to N.H.S. hospitals and will come under the care of consultant gynaecologists, it is nevertheless probable that some will be admitted to ” a place approved for the purpose by the Ministry of Health or the Secretary of State,” and additionally may not come under the care of a trained and experienced obstetrician. Therein to my mind lies a danger to these women, as the numbers seeking abortion continues to increase and as hospital beds become so severely taxed as to necessitate delay in admission. The difference between the risks of the operation in the early weeks and in the weeks between the ninth and the fourteenth is considerable, and after this point an abdominal approach must be considered. . .

For these reasons, in my earlier letter I feared the possibility of panic measures leading to unethical surgery in inadequate surroundings (apart from authorized units) and stressed the need for the hospital consultant to be directly concerned in all cases.


Bailey KV. (Correspondence) Risks of Abortion. Br Med J. 1968;2(5604):557.

(Correspondence) GMC and Abortion Act, 1967

Myre Sim

British Medical Journal, BMJ
British Medical Journal

Extract
It is difficult for the ordinary doctor like myself to understand the role of the G.M.C. as regards medical ethics. Its change in attitude over abortion would suggest that the law of the land takes precedence over medical ethics, for the present law permits abortion for non-medical reasons. Does this mean that the G.M.C. will maintain only those medical ethics which do not conflict with the law, and that laws permitting euthanasia and sterilization of the unfit would receive similar sanction ? There is surely a conflict here not only between the G.M.C. and individual doctors but between the G.M.C. and those medical ethics which have international recognition..


Sim M. (Correspondence) GMC and Abortion Act, 1967. Br Med J. 1968 May 4;2(5600):298.

(Correspondence) Ethics and Abortion

JP Crawford

British Medical Journal, BMJ
British Medical Journal

Extract
Surely a decision by Parliament in a democracy cannot be described as sinister ” superior orders” echoing Nuremberg 20 years ago (or rather what ended there and then). The boot could be argued to be on the other foot-namely, that doctors are prepared to dictate to the nation.


Crawford J. (Correspondence) Ethics and Abortion. Br Med J. 1968 Apr 20;2(5598):173.

(Editorial) Ethics and Abortion (Response)

British Medical Journal

British Medical Journal, BMJ
British Medical Journal

Extract
[Re: comparison of legal dictation of ethical norms to “superior orders” defense at Nuremberg] “It was a plea of ” superior orders ” in justification of a profession changing an ethical rule which we said would be the ” sinister echo ” not the superior orders themselves (in this case the provisions of the Abortion Act).”


BMJ. (Editorial) Ethics and Abortion (Response). Br Med J. 1968;2(5598):173.

(Correspondence) Ethics and Abortion

Dugald Baird

British Medical Journal, BMJ
British Medical Journal

Extract
What the Act does is to make clear beyond doubt that termination of pregnancy is legal and that the decision to terminate or not should be left, as far as possible, to the clinical judgement of the doctors concerned, and that in reaching their decision doctors may take into account the effect of the patient’s total environment on her health.


Baird D. (Correspondence) Ethics and Abortion. Br Med J. 1968;2(5598):173.

(Editorial) Ethics and Abortion

British Medical Journal

British Medical Journal, BMJ
British Medical Journal

Extract
So the B.M.A., representing most doctors in Britain, had clearly stated its views on the ethics of abortion. Parliament then made it legal for a doctor to terminate pregnancy on wider indications than the B.M.A. thought ethically permissible. Should the Association’s opinions on ethics be altered to bring them into line with the law? Posed with that question last week the Council decided that they should not (Supplement, p. 3), and the Representative Body is to be asked in June to ratify this decision . . . The principle at issue is fundamental if doctors are to preserve their right to call themselves professional men. A profession sets a standard of conduct for its members, and the essence of professional freedom for a doctor is his right to act in professional matters uninfluenced by any considerations other than the judgement of his fellows. Medical ethics are the collective conscience of the profession, and a plea of ” superior orders ” would be a sinister echo of some- thing that ended 20 years ago at Nuremberg.


BMJ. (Editorial) Ethics and Abortion. Br Med J. 1968;2(5596):3.

BMA Council: Central Ethics Committee (Proceedings)

BMA

British Medical Journal, BMJ
British Medical Journal

Abstract
Dr. Woolley, referring to the Committee’s recommendation on the ethics of termination of pregnancy, said that Lord Cohen had accepted that the General Medical Council’s rulings had to agree with the law of the land, but he (Dr. Woolley) pointed out that any society was permitted to have its own code and standards, and the B.M.A. was one of those soceties. . . Dr. E. A. GERRARD, Chairman of the B.M.A.’s Committee on Therapeutic Abortion, said that if, as it would seem, the General Medical Council was not the guardian of the ethos of medicine in the matter of abortion, the Ethical Committee’s recommendation, backed by the Council, was the correct one. In other words, the British Medical Association must become the guardian of the ethos of medicine.


BMA. BMA Council: Central Ethics Committee (Proceedings). Br Med J. 1968;2(5596 (Supplement)):3.