The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is facing criticism after calling for abortion to be decriminalised, without consulting its members on the issue.
The union, which represents almost 30,000 midwives and health workers, has said it gives its “full support” to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), the UK’s biggest abortion provider, in its campaign for abortion to be removed from criminal law.
Prof Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM, is also chairman of the board of trustees of BPAS.
It is currently against the law for women to terminate a foetus after 24 weeks unless there is a medical reason to do so, while abortions earlier in a pregnancy are only legal if two doctors agree to it.
But the RCM is backing calls for the legal limits to be scrapped and abortion to instead be regulated in the same way as other medical procedures, at the discretion of doctors.
,,For the organisation that represents us to support the radical position that all protections for unborn children should be removed… we find utterly unacceptable,, -RCM members’ letter
Critics fear this could lead to more late-stage terminations and open the door to children being aborted based on their sex.
Last week, the RCM issued a formal position paper confirming it “supports the campaign to remove abortion from criminal law”, explaining that “the continued criminalisation of abortion in the UK may drive women to access abortion services which are neither safe nor legal, and which may prove harmful or even fatal”.
A letter of protest to the board of the RCM disowning its stance and demanding it consult its members has now been signed by 200 midwives, according to campaign group Christian Concern.
The letter says that decriminalisation “would mean the introduction of abortion up to birth for any reason” and says the signatories object to the “extreme position”.
“It is out of keeping with what we take to be the ethic of our profession, as well as the consistently expressed wishes of British women with regards to the legality and regulation of abortion, and it has been taken with no consultation whatsoever of RCM membership,” it says.
A spokesman for the RCM confirmed it “did not consult on this issue”.
“The RCM’s constitution allows for our members to elect the RCM Board and for this body to set our strategic objectives. The positions we take are based on these agreed objectives,” he said.
The BPAS campaign follows the jailing of a 24-year-old woman who used poison deliberately induced a miscarriage when at least 32 weeks pregnant.
Source: The Telegraph