§ Mr. Alton
To ask the Secretary of State for Health further to his answer to the hon. Member for Bury, North (Mr. Burt) of 12 December,Official Report, columns 484–85, if he will extend the application in principle of the conscience clause in the Abortion Act 1967 to (a) pharmacists who are asked to participate in abortions by dispensing abortifacient drugs for that purpose, (b) medical secretaries who are asked to participate in abortions by processing administrative details required for abortions and (c) other medical and ancillary staff required to assist in the process of abortion except where their assistance is purely for the purpose of caring for mother and baby.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
Section 4 of the Abortion Act 1967 makes provision for conscientious objection to participation in treatment authorised by the Act. Its operation cannot be extended except by primary legislation. However, in recognition of the particular concern expressed about the position of those ancillary staff in hospitals who are involved in the handling of fetuses and fetal tissue, hospital managers have been asked to apply the principle of section 4 to any ancillary staff who express a conscientious objection to participation in that activity. We have no plans to ask managers to apply the principle to other personnel who are not directly concerned with the handling of fetuses and fetal tissue.