Ethnic groups 'may be denied pregnancy aid'
by Christopher Howse
ETHNIC groups could be hit hard by a recommendation from a parliamentary committee on perinatal mortality, according to the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.
Doctors who want to care for mothers before and after they give birth ought to have experience in family planning and counselling for sterilisation. recommendation 57 of the Short* report says. This would mean that Orthodox Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Muslims and Greek Orthodox women would be denied the care of doctors who hold their beliefs, Mr John Smeaton, Spuc's secretary, has warned M Ps and health authorities.
Spuc comes out in favour of most of the Short report's recommendations. But it criticises other organisations' undiscerning acceptance of the report. The grounds for Spuc's objections are ostensibly racial because "We have no policy on sterilisation or contraception on which our members hold varying views," Mr Smeaton said.
The recommendation to which Spuc objects says: "GPs who wish to do only antenatal and postnatal care would not have to do six months of obstetric residency but should have undertaken an agreed period of attendance at antenatal and postnatal consultant clinics which would include experience in family planning and counselling for sterilisation."
Spuc is in a difficult position. The • director, Phyllis Bowman. and secretary. John Smeaton, whose names appear on the booklet commenting on the report, are personally opposed to Government contraception policies. but the society itself is meant to be a broad alliance of opponents to abortion as such.
At the same time the Department of Health and Social Security is clearly committed to a policy of contraception and sterilisation as a social service Already the Department of Health has admitted that doctors unwilling to perform abortions cannot be appointed consultants where the service is required. Spire obviously fears this limitation is being extended to other means of population control.
In addition to drawing attention to the report's recommendations that screening should be broadened (so that more defective foetuses may be aborted. rather than supported after birth at the public expense). Spuc has moved into the area of ethnic defence.
*The Report from the Social Services Committee on Perinatal and Neonatal Mortality.