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Spot checks for abortion clinics

23rd March 2012

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has ordered unannounced inspections of abortion clinics in England to check if they are abiding by the law.

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The Care Quality Commission will carry out the inspections after concerns were raised over consent forms being pre-signed before women had been seen.

The checks come after a Daily Telegraph investigation suggested some clinics were allowing women an abortion on the grounds of a baby’s gender.

Apart from when the matter is considered an emergency, the law demands two doctors must certify an abortion, though there is no requirement for them to actually see the patient – only that they have assessed the clinical information.

However, it has now been suggested that some forms are being signed before any clinical assessment has taken place.

Mr Lansley said: “I am shocked and appalled to learn that some clinics - which look after women in what are often difficult circumstances - may be allowing doctors to pre-sign abortion certificates. This is contrary to the spirit and the letter of the Abortion Act.”

The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child said it had heard about pre-signing over a number of years, although had not seen direct evidence.

The British Pregnancy Abortion Service, one of the main providers, said clinics are regularly inspected by the CQC and also criticised Mr Lansley’s approach.

Chief executive Ann Furedi said she was appalled that Mr Lansley had informed journalists of alleged breaches of the abortion law before informing those responsible for providing the services and before the investigation is concluded.

 

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