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abortionPlanned Parenthood is a not for profit organisation which has been repeatedly targeted by pro-life activists. It has hundreds of clinics across the US providing services such as contraception, abortions and STD testing.  The gun man supposedly called out ‘No more body parts’ as he shot people and a policeman in the clinic. Planned Parenthood has been attacked and accused for selling foetal body parts in a film by right wing activists who hoped to have abortions banned in Missouri. An investigation followed but the Missouri Attorney General found that there was no evidence in the allegations.   

Abortion is a very emotional subject. It is the only procedure that a doctor can opt out off. However the GMC is clear that your personal beliefs should not affect your treatment of a patient. Even if you disagree with a patient who requests an abortion that patient should be treated with consideration and empathy. It may be reasonable to ask her to consider other options if she does not seem completely sure but that should not result in any significant delay. The patient should be quickly referred to a colleague who is willing to help her. You should never impose your views or personal beliefs.

The Abortion Act makes abortion legal up to 24 weeks gestation,

1 If there is greater physical or mental risk or harm to the mother by continuing the pregnancy.

2. At any stage if there is serious risk to the health of the mother

3. At any stage if the foetus is likely to be born with severe physical or mental abnormalities.

Pregnancy and delivery is more dangerous than a termination so reason number one suggests that provided the pregnancy has not gone far there is effectively abortion on demand. However late terminations, beyond 12 weeks are rare. 90% are before 12 weeks in the UK.

The major organs are formed by 12 weeks. We think that the foetus may begin to feel pain at 20 weeks when the nervous system begins to mature. When recognisably human life truly begins is very controversial. Many believe it begins at conception, HFEA [Human Fertilisation and Embryology allows embryo research till the primitive streak forms [the cells which form the trilaminar embryological disc which becomes the baby] on day 15, others believe the cut off should occur when the nervous system forms. British law recognises that despite modern advances independent life under 24 weeks outside the uterus is difficult for a foetus so the limit remains 24 weeks.

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