United Kingdom: A committee considering scientific evidence and making recommendations for change based on scientific evidence has issued its report. Religious groups, who had tried to nobble the enquiry, will not be pleased with the results. No change in the upper limit is suggested, and liberalisation in other areas is proposed. What's more, the committee said that superstitious doctors who object to the procedure should alert their patients well in advance. Ben Goldacre has the press release, which quotes committee member Dr Evan Harris, a Liberal Democrat MP, extensively:
This thorough report - after a rigorous enquiry into a set of very narrow scientific issues - sets out clear conclusions on what the scientific evidence can tell us about abortion law reform.
The medical evidence is stark about how the threshold of viability has not reduced below 24 weeks, and that is why our conclusions are so firm...
The Committee had no alternative - given the medical and scientific facts - but to argue for the end of the 40 year requirement for two doctors signatures, the old-fashioned ban on nurses performing abortions, and the unnecessary restriction of choice for women about where they have early medical abortion.
I am pleased the Committee argues for the GMC to make clear that doctors who conscientiously object must alert their patients in advance and ensure another doctor takes the consultation if abortion is a possibility.
Dr. Harris also left us a tempting tidbit:
The so called
minority report is a amusing mish-mash of paranoid conspiracy theories, pseudo-scientific clap-trap and anti-abortion zealotry. The few recognisably scientific arguments it makes are completely dealt with in the Committee's report and rebutted by the totality of the scientific literature.
I think we can all guess which report the Prattle would like to see.
Sense prevails—Bad Science, 31st October 2007. See also SCIENTIFIC DEVELOPMENTS RELATING TO THE ABORTION ACT 1967, an account of the committee's remit on the UK Parliamentary website.