Medical Ethics: Abortion, Referral and Autonomy

Welcome back – It is May, and this month we are going to focus on Women’s Health – the O & the G, pregnancy, family planning and preventative care for the ladies.

I am going to be brave and open a discussion on Abortion [I may regret this].  I do not wish to alienate anybody or sensationalise this issue – I do believe that it is an important discussion to be had between peers of different persuasions.

This is where I see the current state of play for abortion in Australia. I work in an area where I deal with abortion as a routine part of my practice.

  • Termination of pregnancy is a reality of modern medicine.
  • I know that the medical community is clearly split – those who do and those who do not.
  • Women [in most developed countries] have the right to choose and control their own bodies.
  • We – the medical profession, have a duty to provide this care in a safe and unimpeded manner.
  • I am a pragmatist and strongly believe in harm minimisation. (most of the women I anaesthetise for a TOP also agree to an implantable, longer term contraceptive device)
  • For me a TOP is a symptom – of poor sexual health education, often a relationship under strain, and a woman at risk of other problems – STIs etc.  This is an opportunity to intervene and make a difference, rather than an end in itself.

This story caught my eye this week – it was a piece in “The Telegraph” out of Sydney.  Link is HERE.

Essentially it is a story about a GP who refused to refer a woman (couple ) to a Gynecologist for a termination of pregnancy.  The GP is openly anti-abortion and has run for a political party on this platform.  However, in this case he refused to refer as he believed the couple were planning to terminate in order to achieve “gender selection” – i.e they did not wish to have daughter.

So I am going to go beyond the usual abortion debate – I am NOT asking if you feel it is right or wrong.  That debate has been well documented over many years.  I am going to ask a few more practical questions.  Imagine that you are a GP, take your own ethics into the room when your next patient requests a termination referral….

The Pinnion poll below includes 3 questions.  Feel free to answer them or not – you can select multiple options on the last question.

Or leave a comment on this topic – the story above and let me know what you think.

Lots of Women’s health coming up in the next few weeks – will be significantly less controversial I promise!

Oh, the last Ethics poll on post-mortem intubation is completed – check out the results on that post.


PS: A quick look at the spread of opinion on the 3 question in the poll ths far.  Small numbers – but a definite spread of opinion on the practical side of abortion referral in our readers.
abortion q3

abortion q2

Abortion q1


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