HC Deb 16 December 1999 vol 341 cc308-9W
Dr. Tonge

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will draw up guidelines to ensure that all general practitioners with a conscientious objection to abortion are required to make such objection known within their publicity and advertising materials; [101931]

(2) if he will issue guidelines to all general practitioners explaining that if they are unwilling (a) to advise on and (b) refer women for abortions they should help them make an appointment with another general practitioner who is willing to refer them to a hospital or agency for NHS treatment. [101932]

Yvette Cooper

[holding answer 9 December 1999]: In 1991 the General Medical Services Council of the British Medical Association issued guidance to general practitioners through local medical committees, reminding them of their obligations under their terms of service. That guidance remains extant and GPs who have a conscientious objection to abortion should refer the patient to another doctor as soon as possible. GPs who fail to do this could be alleged to be in breach of their terms of service.

Earlier this year regional directors were asked to ensure that primary care groups have arrangements in place so that women considering an abortion are able to have easy access to a GP who can make a referral where appropriate.

A doctor is not required to make known on a practice leaflet a conscientious objection to abortion or any other treatment.