British Medical Panel’s New Guidelines: No Parents in Abortion Decision

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

British Medical Panel’s New Guidelines: No Parents in Teen’s Abortion Decision Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 27,

London, England ( — A British medical panel has devised new guidelines regarding the doctor-patient relationship when it comes to children. The General Medical Council says doctors should treat children confidentially, without a parent’s involvement, and that the treatment includes counseling regarding abortion.

The GMC has ordered doctors in Britain to respect the privacy rights of minor children and inform them of their ability to be treated without the involvement of Mom or Dad.

The guidelines apply to all 240,000 physicians practicing in England and it covers abortions, sexual issues counseling and all children under the age of 16.

As long as the physicians hear from the child that they refuse to tell their parents about the reason for the doctor visit, they are prohibited from informing her parents.

"This is the first time the GMC has set standards for doctors specifically about children and young people," council president Professor Sir Graeme Catto told the London Daily Mail newspaper. "It recognizes that children are individuals with rights that should be respected."

The new document the GMC released says "Parents cannot override the competent consent of a young person to treatment that you the doctor consider is in their best interests."

"But you can rely on parental consent when a child lacks the capacity to consent," it adds.

The new guidelines follow on the heels of a poll conducted earlier this month finding more than 70 percent of women there oppose late-term abortions and want the limits scaled back that currently allow them as long as 24 weeks into pregnancy.

The respected polling group ComRes conducted the survey and found 55 percent of those polled say there are too many abortions in England and that the numbers should be reduced.

Seventy percent support the right of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to refuse to participate in abortions. They also support the right to not be required to refer women seeking an abortion to another physician.

Wth more than 200,000 abortions last year, a record in Britain, the poll’s results could play an important part in the debate over the nation’s abortion law.

The law marks its 40th anniversary this year and the British parliament is set for a debate in the coming weeks over abortion.