British Activists Say Nurses Can Do Abortions, But Health Dept Says No

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 27, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Activists Say Nurses Can Do Abortions, But Health Dept Says No Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 27
, 2007

London, England ( — Abortion advocates claim abortion is supposed to be between a woman and her doctor, but abortion activists in England say British law would allow nurses to do them. Analysis of the nation’s Abortion Act and case law suggests that nurses could do abortions even without the doctor present.

Currently, nurses can administer the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug, which is responsible for the deaths of two women in Britain.

The analysis, from Vincent Argent, a gynecologist, and Lin Pavey, a nurse and former manager of an abortion center, says nurses can do abortions as long as a physician is in charge. But the doctor need not be at the abortion center in person.

They published their arguments in the latest issue of the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care.

"Our analysis of the Abortion Act 1967 and the RCN v DHSS case shows that registered nurses and midwives could currently perform surgical abortions themselves as long as a medical practitioner is in overall charge even if the medical practitioner is not physically present," they wrote.

They say allowing nurses to do abortions would make the grisly procedure more available.

Ann Furedi, the chief executive of British Pregnancy Advisory Service abortion business admitted to the Guardian newspaper that nurses associated with her group would like to do abortions. She pointed to laws in the U.S. in some states and South Africa allowing nurses to do abortions as proof the idea would work.

A spokesman for the Department of Health told the newspaper nurses will not likely be able to do abortions.

"One of the fundamental requirements of the Abortion Act 1967 is that a pregnancy must be terminated by a registered medical practitioner," he said.

"We will consider this article in more detail but the Department of Health currently takes the view that the case law referred to in the article does not authorize a nurse to perform a surgical abortion," the representative added.