The new guidance for healthcare professionals on compliance with the Abortion Act clarifies:
- that abortion on the grounds of gender alone is not lawful
- the expectation that 2 doctors, when certifying that an abortion meets the criteria set out in the Act, must consider the individual circumstances of the woman and be prepared to justify their decision
- that it is good practice for at least one of the doctors to have seen the pregnant woman before reaching a decision about the termination
- that pre-signing of statutory abortion certificates prior to consideration of a woman’s circumstances is not compliant with the Act
- that doctors have a legal duty to report all abortions to the Chief Medical Officer
Following a consultation carried out earlier this year, procedures that independent sector abortion clinics must follow in order to be approved to provide services have also been updated.
In order to be approved independent abortion clinics must fully comply with the updated guidance.
Independent sector places will have until 23 June to reapply for approval to continue practicing.
Updated annual birth ratio statistics for England and Wales have also been published. This data takes into account all births between 2008 and 2012 and is broken down by the mother’s country of birth. Analysis of the data found no evidence of sex selection occurring in the UK.
An analysis of under-reporting of abortions for fetal abnormality together with recommendations from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists into the reasons for under-reporting has also been published.