UK Releases Recommendations On Gestational Limit On Abortion

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The British Parliament's Select Committee on Science and Technology in a report released on Wednesday said there is "no scientific basis" for lowering the 24-week gestational limit on legal abortion in the country, Reuters UK reports (Castle, Reuters UK, 10/30). The report also recommended eliminating a requirement that women seeking abortions obtain the signature of two doctors before undergoing the procedure, the PA/Guardian reports (Kirby, PA/Guardian, 10/30).

In addition, the report said that nurses and midwives with proper training and professional guidance should not be prevented from administering medical abortions at all stages of pregnancy, as well as surgical abortions at early stages, BBC News reports. The committee also said there is no safety reason for barring a woman from taking at home the second of two pills required for an early-stage medical abortion (BBC News, 10/31). According to Reuters, the committee excluded moral and ethical considerations in its report, which is not binding but likely will "influence" debate on the country's abortion law in upcoming months.

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Committee chair Phil Willis of the Liberal Democrat Party said, "In our inquiry we have attempted to sift the evidence on scientific and medical developments since the last amendment of the law in 1990 and since the 1967 Act," adding, "We urge all [members of Parliament] and the public to study the evidence we have taken and the conclusions we have reached" (PA/Guardian, 10/31).

Committee members Nadine Dorries and Bob Spink of the Conservative Party published a dissenting minority report calling for reducing the gestational limit and stronger abortion restrictions, BBC News reports. Dorries and Spink said that Parliament has been "misled in this report on two major issues: pain and survival," adding that the "report should have reflected the differences of opinions which exist and allowed MPs to draw their own conclusions" (BBC News, 10/31).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives. The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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