Britain is facing an abortion crisis because an unprecedented number of doctors are refusing to be involved in carrying out the procedure. The exodus of doctors prepared to perform the task is a nationwide phenomenon that threatens to plunge the abortion service into chaos, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has warned.
More than 190,000 abortions are carried out each year in England and Wales and the NHS is already struggling to cope. Four out of five abortions are paid for by the NHS but almost half of those are carried out in the private sector, paid for by the NHS.
The reluctance of NHS staff, both doctors and nurses, to be involved has led to a doubling of abortions paid for by the NHS, which are carried out in the private or charitable sector, from 20 per cent of the total in 1997 to almost 40 per cent.
Distaste at performing terminations combined with ethical and religious convictions has led to a big increase in "conscientious objectors" who request exemption from the task, the RCOG says. A key factor is what specialists call "the dinner party test". Gynaecologists who specialise in fertility treatment creating babies for childless couples are almost universally revered - but no one boasts of being an abortionist.
As a result, after decades of campaigning, anti-abortion organisations may be on the point of achieving their objective by default. Repeated efforts to tighten the law have failed and public opinion remains firmly in support, but the growing number of doctors refusing to do the work means there may soon not be enough prepared to carry out terminations to meet demand. Read More.