Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Wider Implications of Pre-Signed Abortion Certificates

Mr David Burrowes MP
Mr David Burrowes MP, who has recently been demanding that the Crown Prosecution Service should take action against the doctors who have been pre-signing blank abortion certificates, should be
congratulated for not letting this matter disappear into the long grass. Mr Burrowes reports that the names of 67 such pre-signing doctors are known.

But there is more to this subject than merely the punishment of these doctors;  the further implications are very wide.

Section 5(2) of the Abortion Act 1967 says:
“For the purposes of the law relating to abortion, anything done with intent to procure a woman’s miscarriage………..is unlawfully done unless authorised by section 1 of this Act”
and section1 of the Act declares that:
“no-one shall be guilty of an offence under the law relating to abortion when a pregnancy is terminated………..if two registered medical practitioners are of the opinion, formed in good faith-…”
Section 1 contains other conditions but it is clear that the doctors who pre-signed could not have ben acting “in good faith” because not only had they never seen the woman for whom the abortion form will be used (something which is believed to be quite common even when forms are not pre signed), no-one at the time that the certificates were signed had seen the woman at all and in some cases the woman might not even have been pregnant at the time of signature.

The consequence of this lack of good faith is that no-one who did anything to procure the abortion of the mother for whom the pre-signed form was used is able to claim the protection of section 1 of the Abortion Act.  Everyone who did “anything to procure a woman’s miscarriage” on the strength of those pre-signed forms, is liable to prosecution for illegal abortion, an offence so serious that it carries a potential sentence of life imprisonment.  

The thought of a series of doctors and nurses being prosecuted is not a particularly edifying one but most if not all of those abortion medical staff must themselves have been aware what was going on and are not entirely blameless.  The administrators of the relevant hospital and clinic must also have been aware of what was going on.  It is a huge and wide ranging conspiracy to avoid the law.  

Unedifying or not, some prosecutions should occur, otherwise we are faced with wholesale contempt for the rule of law.  What would be the point of trying to change and tighten the law when those who are subject to it take no notice and those whose job it is to enforce the law take no action against transgressors?

As for those doctors who pre-signed, they have placed their colleagues and even the eventual abortion patients (under the Offences against the person Act 1861 the mother herself is liable to be prosecuted, although in practice this almost never happened) liable to a prosecution for an extremely serious criminal offence.  Knowingly to put colleagues and patients in this position would seem, in itself, to be a ground for criticism and possibly for disciplinary action from the medical authorities, whether or not criminal prosecution takes place.

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