Call to remove need for doctors' signatures for abortion

The requirement of two doctors' signatures to authorise an abortion should be removed, according to the House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee.

In its report on abortion, published this week, the committee concluded that it had not seen any good evidence that two doctors’ signatures ‘serves to safeguard women or doctors in any meaningful way, or serves any other useful purpose’.

It is concerned that the need to obtain two signatures may delay access to abortion services.
‘If a goal of public policy is to encourage early as opposed to later abortion, we believe there is a strong case for removing the requirement for two doctors’ signatures,’ said the committee.

It also called for the GMC to make sure that any doctors who conscientiously object to abortions make sure patients know they will not consult on the issue.

If the subject of abortion does arise during consultation, doctors should transfer the patient to a different doctor immediately, according to the report.

Additionally, there is no evidence so far that survival rates below the current abortion limit of 24 weeks’ gestation has improved, said the committee.

However, it added that yet to be published results from the EPICure 2 study into survival rates among neonates in England could affect the debate.

rachel.liddle@haymarket.com

Science and Technology Committee report


Comment below and tell us what you think

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

Kamila Hawthorne

GP crisis could force one in four practices to close, says RCGP

Unmanageable pressure could force more than a quarter of GP practices to close, polling...

COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy

Vaccination in pregnancy cuts COVID-19 risk for mother and baby

Vaccination against COVID-19 during pregnancy reduces the risk of infection and hospitalisation...

Child using smartphone

NICE backs digital CBT games for children with anxiety or low mood

GPs could prescribe CBT-based digital games, videos and quizzes for children and...

GP surgery sign

GP pressure to continue as experts warn NHS backlog will remain through 2023

General practice faces continuing heavy pressure after experts warned that the record...

Close-up of a man loading a shotgun

BMA updates GP firearms guidance as digital marker goes live on EMIS

The BMA has updated its guidance for GPs on firearms licensing following the release...

Map pins

Severely underdoctored areas spread across nearly every NHS region

Severely underdoctored areas exist in nearly every NHS region across England, figures...