Reject Motion 50
On Tuesday 27 June, the British Medical Association (BMA) will be debating a motion at the Annual Representative Meeting (ARM) calling for the complete removal of all legal restrictions and sanctions regarding abortion. If these measures were to be implemented, it would mean the introduction of abortion for any reason, to at least 28 weeks and possibly up to birth.

If you are a doctor or medical student, please take action by putting your name to our public joint letter (below) to Dr Anthea Mowat, BMA Representative Body chair, to voice your concern about this motion and call on all present at the meeting to vote down this motion.

Explanatory notes and background reading: https://goo.gl/mNqUwF
If you have questions, please contact us at rejectmotion50@gmail.com.

Letter to Dr Anthea Mowat, BMA Representative Body chair
On Tuesday 27 June, the British Medical Association (BMA) will be debating a motion at the Annual Representative Meeting (ARM) calling for the complete removal of all legal restrictions and sanctions regarding abortion. If these measures were to be implemented, it would mean the introduction of abortion for any reason, to at least 28 weeks and possibly up to birth.

As doctors and medical students we strongly urge the British Medical Association to reject this extreme motion. We represent a variety of positions on the issue of abortion, but believe this motion is out of keeping with both our duties as responsible professionals and the expressed wishes of British women with regards to the legality and regulation of abortion.

In the last few years, polls have consistently shown that a larger proportion of women want more, not fewer restrictions on abortion. A ComRes poll in May 2017 found that only 1% of women wanted to see the time limit for abortion extended above 24 weeks and only 1% of women wanted to see the time limit for abortion extended through to birth. The same poll found that 70% of women wanted to see the abortion time limit reduced to 20 weeks or below. The poll also found that 91% of women favour a total and explicit ban on sex-selective abortion, up from 88% from a poll in March 2014, which also found that 92% of women agree that a woman requesting an abortion should be seen in person by a qualified doctor. Clearly, women want the law to be stricter on the legality and regulation of abortion, not more lax.

This motion is being promoted by a small group of campaigners with extreme views on abortion. Whilst they are entitled to hold the convictions they do we must not let them impose their agenda on the BMA and risk severely damaging our reputation as a professional body. Last year, the Royal College of Midwives saw a major media and public backlash following their announcement that they would be supporting a campaign to introduce abortion for any reason, up to birth. Many commentators on this controversy were pro-choice but recognised that taking this position was an extreme move, and the outrage caused reputational damage both to the Royal College of Midwives and to the wider midwifery profession.

As doctors, where required, we are responsible for the care of both women and their babies throughout pregnancy and childbirth and the current law, however imperfect, is an attempt to recognise that the life and health of both mother and baby need legal protection. It would be unacceptable for the organisation that represents us to support the radical position (supported by only a small minority of women) that all legal protection for babies should be removed, possibly right through to birth.

We, the undersigned, wish to state publicly that motion 50 at the 2017 BMA Annual Representative Meeting, which seeks to remove abortion from its current legal framework, does not represent us or our views, and we call on all present at this meeting to reject it.

This extreme motion does not reflect the moderate and reasonable views of the majority of British women and the general public on this issue, and would severely damage the reputation of both the BMA and the medical profession.

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