HC Deb 25 July 1938 vol 338 cc2710-1
76. Mr. Magnay

asked the Minister of Health whether he is prepared to bring in a regulation requiring all members of the medical and nursing professions to certify and notify to the medical officers of health all operations for abortion, in view of the fact that such operations differ from others in that the life of another is involved?

Mr. Elliot

This is among the matters which are under consideration by the Inter-Departmental Committee on Abortion, and I am unable to make any statement at the present time.

Mr. Magnay

In view of the grave concern throughout the country on this matter, will the right hon. Gentleman take care to make representations to the committee to show clearly that this sort of thing is not a private misdemeanour, but a deadly national crime?

Mr. Elliot

A very influential committee has been considering this matter for some time, and no doubt it will take all these matters into consideration.

Mr. Logan

I take it that no recommendation of the committee will alter the law of England with regard to murder and the taking of life?

77. Sir Henry Morris-Jones

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been directed to the recent acquittal at the hands of the jury of Mr. Aleck William Bourne, who was charged, at the Old Bailey, with unlawfully using an instrument with intent to procure the miscarriage of a girl of 14 years of age; and whether, as this was a test case, he intends introducing legislation to clarify or amend the law dealing with such offences?

Mr. Elliot

Yes, Sir. My attention has been drawn to this case. In reply to the second part of the question, I am not in a position to make any statement pending the issue of a report by the Inter-Departmental Committee which is investigating this and other matters concerning abortion.

Sir H. Morris-Jones

Is my right hon. Friend aware that during the hearing of this case, the defendant stated in evidence before the court that if the subject of the operation had been a mental defective, he would not have operated, and is not defective mentality a state of extreme ill-health also?

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