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Abortion again

October 7, 2012

Why subsidise it?

As a pro-choice doctor (click here) who performs abortions, I don’t support the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt’s call to restrict them to a 12 week limit.  But I’d like to see fewer done.

There are 190,000 a year, almost a quarter of pregnancies in the UK. Although it’s not for me to judge other people’s lives, many are for relatively minor reasons – child spacing, or to time birth more conveniently.  But the way forward is not to re-criminalise late ones. That would punish the most vulnerable, who might indeed return to illegal backstreet abortionists.

The way to reduce them is simple. Keep it legal, but stop subsidising them. Why do we pay for abortion via the NHS? Are  not enough done? Why was abortion a criminal act on the last day of 1966 and then paid for by the taxpayer on Jan 1st 1967? Things can be permitted without being subsidised.

Of course poor people need abortions.  But abortion is cheap, and charities could easily pay for the tiny number of women who really couldn’t afford the few hundred pounds it costs. One such charity already exists, the wonderful Marie-Stopes. It would expand and others would spring up.

I don’t know how much effect paying for abortion would have. Since the cost is so modest, the effect might be quite small. But the signal, that if you want an abortion you need to sort it out for yourself, could be quite powerful.  Give it a go Mr Hunt.

Jim Thornton

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Sue Austin permalink
    October 22, 2012 8:10 am

    As both a midwife and previous employee at Marie Stopes I too am pro choice as women deserve good care whatever thiri declsion about being pregnant. I can see the argument about making all abortions funded by the women themselves but what about getting them the right contraception in the first place?

  2. October 22, 2012 9:34 pm

    Absolutely agree. But here’s a question. I’m referring to pills, patches, vaginal rings and and injectables.

    Is contraception more accessible if it’s provided free by the government, but you have to see a doctor, and undergo all sorts of screening and testing to get a relatively limited supply (current system)? Or would it be more accessible if you had to pay for it from the chemist, but could buy it without prescription or any other medical hassle?

    Bear in mind that the price of generic off patent pills would be pence per packet.

  3. Harriet Treacy permalink
    November 14, 2012 11:07 am

    Dear Proff,

    I am a Nottingham University Medical Student originally from Rep.of Ireland. I have just heard about the most recent woman to die in Ireland because she was denied her right to abort a 17 week fetus that was miscarrying. She developed septicaemia and died. There is a protest being held in Ireland outside the Dail (parliament) in Dublin tonight but as I am in the UK, I cannot be there.

    I want to set up a petition in which English woman can show their support for Irish women who are currently living in a country that puts a fotus before a womans right to life.
    Any advice on how I could go about this effectively?

    Kind Regards,

  4. Daniel Hay permalink
    January 24, 2017 11:56 pm

    Well, we do some 50 to 60million globally each year, the vast majority for folk who haven’t got two brass farthings to rub together. Over twenty years that’s one billion extra mouths to feed, problematic. Make it a private health issue and immediately you set up competition from back street abortionists who will easily undercut any price offered. They were the main reason that the Act came in as well as to clarify the “horse with the green tail case” that had left English law reliant on “abortion can be done under some circumstances”. After 1967 the requirement for gynae beds fell by a third. Free abortion services save money.

    • January 26, 2017 7:25 am

      You’re confusing defunding with deregulation, Danny. I’m not suggesting any deregulation. Backstreet abortionists would remain illegal. My experience of abortions in the private regulated sector is that they follow the rules better than the NHS. Marie Stopes really depend on keeping their licence, and any fines come out of the bottom line. Unlike the NHS.

      The US situation of intermittent refunding and defunding ever 4-8 years is worst of both worlds. Let us pro-choicers accept that many good people feel very strongly pro-life. Give a bit of ground on government funding and allow the charitable sector to step in for the really poor.

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