Relax Abortion Laws, Says Welsh Genomics Professor; 'Drop Requirement for Two Doctors to Vet Decision on Termination'

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Byline: Sarah Miloudi

ABORTION laws must be relaxed to allow women greater freedom of choice, a distinguished Welsh research professor claimed yesterday.

Ruth Chadwick, director of the Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics at Cardiff University called for the requirement for women to obtain permission from two doctors before the procedure is carried out to be scrapped, claiming it is an outdated practice which is no longer appropriate.

Prof Chadwick - the former head of the Centre for Professional Ethics at the University of Central Lancashire - said she feels the conditions set out in the 1967 Abortion Act do not sufficiently respect a woman's freedom and right to take decisions regarding the fate of her pregnancy.

"Clearly, it is a serious decision that a woman must take regarding whether or not to have an abortion, but I do not think her choice needs to be vetted by two doctors," she said.

"I am not aware of any other procedure which is carried out in the UK where two doctors must take a decision before it can go ahead.

"As far as I amaware - though I am not fully up to speed with recent developments in this field - this only applies where a person requests voluntary euthanasia, however this procedure is not carried out in Britain."

Dr Chadwick was one of 85 medical, law and ethical specialists who, in a letter to The Times newspaper, called for the qualifying conditions for abortions to be changed.

The group, which also included Kent law professor Sally Sheldon and professor of ethics at Kings College London, Jonathan Glover, also called for restrictions on where abortions can take place to be altered in light of medical advances in the field.

They said that in some cases trained nurses should be allowed to conduct abortions. …