BY A STAFF REPORTER
A PROPOSAL by the Abortion Law Reform Association, that consultants more sympathetic to abortion should be appointed in areas where abortion was more difficult to obtain, was attacked at a public meeting in London on Tuesday.
Speaking at the annual meeting of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child, Dr. Charles Goodhart, Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, said: "The proposal that more sympathetic consultants should be appointed is a very dangerous one.
"It means that matters other than professional competence should be taken into consideration in the appointment of consultants to the N.H.S. That is a very slippery slope indeed."
It seemed certain, continued Dr. Goodhart, that some sort of public inquiry into abortion was going to be set up. A motion signed by over 250 M.P.s of all parties asked for this to be done several months ago.
1967 PETITION He recalled that a public petition organised by S.P.U.C. in 1967 was signed by half a million people, asking for a Royal Commission before the law was changed. It was indeed a pity that no action had been taken on this at the time, but it was better late than never.
"There is one point that needs watching," said Dr. Goodhart. "This is that the operation of the Abortion Act should not be included as a minor matter to be considered by some wide-ranging inquiry into family planning and population policy.
"ft may he that inquiries into both these matters may be needed, particularly about flip family planning services where there is plenty of room for improvement. But the law on abortion involved quite differ
ent considerations and needs high-powered and genuinely independent investigation of its own, preferably by a Royal Commission."
Abortion was not another
method of contraception . . to accept that would be to beg the whole question. It would be rather like setting up an inquiry into retirement pensions, and then asking the inquirers to give some thought to euthanasia while they were about it.
STRICTER VIEW The A.L.R.A. review seemed to take it for granted that all our problems would be solved if only abortion could be permitted on demand under the National Health Service, as it effectively already was in the private sector.
For example they quoted the Chief Medical Officer as, by implication, criticising the Birmingham and Oxford Hospital Regions for the fact that twofifths of the women from these areas who had legal abortions did so elsewhere, mostly in London.
There was however, little reason to suppose that "conscience" — that is to say religious objections to abortion as such — was the important factor in these areas. Rather it was that some consultants had a stricter view of what the law allowed.