56 days to go: Mass appeal & U.K. two Doctor model of abortion consent (part 2):


56 days to go….

to Ireland’s referendum on abortion on May 25th where voters decide whether to repeal / remove the pro-life 8th amendment to the constitution which gives equal protection to mother and child, or to keep it.

This post is in two parts:



Everyday, we promote Sr. Briege McKenna’s appeal for Masses to be said privately or publicly in parishes in reparation for Ireland’s turning from God and for protection of the 8th amendment. August last year in Knock, she said, ‘if Ireland votes for abortion, Ireland is lost.’ Please consider getting Masses said locally or through this link to ACN:

http://www.acnireland.org/masses or call 018377516.

Alternatively Human Life International Ireland have a 1000 Mass campaign for protection of the unborn and reparation for Ireland’s turning from God…


Most importantly: can you with other parishioners organise one or more Masses / half-days or days of prayer with medically safe fasting in your parish?


Review: Part 1 / yesterday’s post, covered the 2014 scandal of the pre-signing of consent forms and the decision by the UK General Medical Council / GMC and the police not to pursue any of 67 doctors who had been caught in the practice (1):

The reasons given were three-fold:

(a): the practice was so widespread (two interpretations are possible:  the GMC either didn’t want to go after 67 doctors as that was too many to deal with (!) or the GMC recognised that the 67 doctors were just the ones that got caught and making an example of them would be unfair if everyone was doing it.

(b): no woman was harmed by any of the 67 doctors (they didn’t comment on whether women had been harmed in the past. It’s wasn’t very clear either but it’s implied, that the pre-signing of consent forms meant that the patients in question never saw a doctor, or they’d seen them but after the fact to get the admin out the way, exposing the patient to the potential risk of not being seen or the consultation being  perfunctory and formulaic).

(c): it was because of big changes in UK abortion clinical practice since the 1967 act.

It appears that by 2014, the act, was considered effectively outdated and clinical practice had moved on.  The article in the Telegraph doesn’t mention anyone asking the G.M.C. to clarify what they meant by this as grounds for not penalising any medic involved in pre-signing because it was so obvious and self-evident that there really wasn’t anything to ask. Clinical practice which broke the law on two doctor consent had changed and that’s why the GMC didn’t want to pursue anyone specifically. No one could be held accountable.  It was basically okay. No explanation was offered for when or why that began or for how long but it appears to be long-standing.

This becomes interesting for us in Ireland because we are supposed to be reassured that the two doctor model is going to act as a filter / safeguard to abortions post 12 weeks in government proposals,  as an Irish unborn baby now has zero protection in law, following the recent Irish supreme court decision not to confer any rights on the unborn other than the all or nothing protection of the 8th.  Once the 8th goes, there is no protection to birth other than the 24 week  ban that even government ministers are interpreting differently.

What was the response of the U.K. Department of Health  / D.O.H.?

On May 25th 2014, just 11 days after the Telegraph had reported the G.M.C.’s refusal to call anyone to account over the scandal, the same paper (2) reported that the D.O.H. had issued public guidelines that doctors could consent a woman by Skype or over the phone.The guidelines on behalf of the British government, went on to say that the 1967 law states that doctors should consider the individual case but not necessarily see each woman. However they agreed that it would be ‘good practice’ that one doctor should see the woman or at least talk to her on the phone.

They continued:

“Although there is no legal requirement for at least one of the certifying doctors to have seen the pregnant woman before reaching a decision about a termination, the Department’s view is that it is good practice for this to be the case. It is recognised however that, with technological advances, this may well mean that a doctor does not physically see the woman, e.g. there could be a discussion by phone or over a webcam.”

No legal requirement? What was all the fuss about then? Why were the G.M.C. or the police even involved?  Yesterday we commented that the Telegraph reported that Earl Howe, the health minister had said prosecutions should happen in the Lords. M.P.s had been up in arms and had gone to the Metropolitan police force. Had they all got it wrong? Is that why they were ignored by police and G.M.C.?

The response / guidelines of the UK Dept of Health to the pre-signing consent scandal was to state that it’s always good practice for a woman to be seen by a doctor before an abortion but this not necessary under the ’67 act and if a doctor is to see her, to facilitate that good practice, that can be done by Skype.

While Skype consultations are now happening in medicine, the nub of the question is there is absolutely no requirement from UK Dept of Health guidelines for even one doctor to see a woman seeking abortion.

At first glance, this non-requirement to see a woman or even consult with her by phone / Skype flies in the face of the 1967 act or at least the interpretation of the inspectors from the health watchdog’, the Care Quality Commission C.Q.C. who made the discoveries.

How does one reconcile that pre-signing of abortion consent forms by doctors is illegal yet there is zero requirement for them to see a woman before the procedure? Which or who is correct?

Does it make the earlier statements by Mr. Dickson, the Chief executive and registrar of the G.M.C. completely superfluous?  He was stamping out an illegal practice but within the month the Dept of Health had okayed it.

Two pieces of apparently conflicting advice one from the G.M.C., one from the D.O.H. within a fortnight. Was this envisaged when the 1967 act when drawn up? What are the implications for Ireland?

Part 3 of the two doctor model is tomorrow: the practice on the ground…

(1): https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/10807990/Pre-signing-abortion-forms-is-illegal-General-Medical-Council-admits.html

(2): https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/10851574/Abortion-doctors-can-consult-women-on-phone-or-via-Skype-guidance.html

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