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British Pregnancy Advice Service’s interpretation of Abortion Act merits urgent parliamentary scrutiny

by | Mar 3, 2012

By Dr. Peter Saunders

Ann Furedi, Chief Executive, British Pregnancy Advice Service

The ‘Voice for Choice’ Coalition, an assemblage of pro-abortion groups and activists, has today issued a quite extraordinary statement which can be accessed on the ‘Open Democracy’ website.

Titled ‘The Daily Telegraph is mistaken: We support doctors who provide abortion services’, it has been prompted by the Daily Telegraph’s recent investigation into sex selection abortions.

It comes shortly after a highly controversial article by two bioethicists arguing that there is no difference between abortion and ‘after birth abortion’ or infanticide.

Caroline Farrow of Catholic Voices has already published an effective and comprehensive line by line fisk [critique] but I wanted to pick on one point that deserves further investigation.

Two of the authors of the statement, Ann Furedi and Patricia Lohr, are respectively Chief Executive and Medical Director of Bpas (British Pregnancy Advice Service), Britain’s largest abortion provider.

It is this that makes the article particularly striking because they reveal an extremely liberal interpretation of the current abortion law which I think merits the attention of parliament.

As I have noted previously, 98% of abortions in Britain are carried out on the legal grounds ‘that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman’.

And yet a major review of the literature by the Royal College of Psychiatrists last year revealed that there is no evidence that the continuance of a pregnancy ever involves risk to the mental health of the mother that is ‘greater than if the pregnancy were terminated’.

This raises an interesting question. Are those doctors who authorise abortions on these mental health grounds aware of these facts or not? In other words, when they sign these forms, are they just ignorant of the facts or are they being deliberately disingenuous?

We learn the truth in today’s statement.

‘Today, most doctors and most people recognise that women themselves do know what is best for their own lives and do take responsible decisions. Hence, most doctors are willing to provide an abortion referral for a woman if she requests it because they understand that continuing an unwanted pregnancy is not good for women or their children, and will almost always cause a woman greater distress than having an abortion.’

So the Chief Executive and Medical Director of Bpas, the country’s largest abortion provider, equate ‘risk to the mental health of the mother’ with ‘causing the woman distress’.

No wonder they are willing to provide abortion for virtually everyone who requests it!

When abortion was legalised in 1967 by the Abortion Act it provided doctors with protection from conviction under the Offences Against the Person Act for abortions carried out under a strictly limited set of conditions. This was in recognition of the fact that abortion ended the life of a human being.

But now, after over seven million abortions, it is clear that the mental health clause in the Act is being used as a catch-all to provide abortions virtually on demand, for every woman who claims to be distressed about the fact that she has an unwanted pregnancy. And yet ‘distress’ by any stretch of the imagination does not constitute mental illness.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said last week that to carry out abortions on women who were distressed their babies were the ‘wrong sex’ was both ‘morally repugnant’ and ‘illegal’.

Perhaps it is time that someone asked him about Bpas carrying out the legal status of abortions carried out on women ‘distressed’ about having an unwanted pregnancy for any other reason . Especially given that they receive many millions of pounds of public money each year for doing it.

Britain’s largest abortion provider’s interpretation of the Abortion Act merits urgent parliamentary scrutiny.

Editor’s note. Dr. Saunders is a former general surgeon and CEO of Christian Medical Fellowship, a UK-based organization with 4,500 UK doctors and 1,000 medical students as members. This first appeared on Dr. Saunders’ blog at

Categories: Infanticide