The Secular Medical Forum strongly supports the right of women to have legal and safe abortions.

It is imperative that we never return to the days, before the 1967 Abortion Act, of illegal backstreet abortions when the possibility of complications such as haemorrhage, secondary infections, perforation of the uterus, and even the mother’s death were so great.

In the UK, the Christian religion in particular is a common feature of those anti-choice groups who wish to impose their extreme views on Society in general, whether religious or not. We must reject control of our lives by priests, and listen more to those in the medical profession, and to ethical philosophers, whose actions and opinions are not influenced by the orders of religious leaders.

It is a fact that Nature itself allows rejection of many pregnancies, as not all fertilised ova result in successful births.

The Forum believes that the limit for legal abortions should if possible be kept at the present maximum level of 24 weeks, unless of course there are serious foetal or maternal complications beyond this point. It is important to note that women today are acting responsibly in deciding to have abortions – according to the British Medical Journal of 10 February 2007, in 2005, 89% of all abortions in England and Wales were carried out at under 13 weeks’ gestation. Some politicians today are considering the possibility of reducing the maximum level from 24 weeks to 22 or even 20 weeks – however, in 2005, in England and Wales, only 1.3% of all abortions took place between 20 and 24 weeks.

We would like to see the end of the necessity for two physicians to give their consent for a woman to have a termination. The fact that a woman does not want, after due consideration, to proceed with her pregnancy should be reason enough. This current requirement is potentially discriminatory and humiliating. In effect, if a woman seriously does not want a pregnancy then it would be damaging for her to have it proceed to a normal birth.

Finally, the Secular Medical Forum deplores the fact that in Northern Ireland today abortions are rarely performed due to very strong local religious and political influences.