MIDWIVES are furious after their union boss agreed to allow abortions to be carried out after the current 24-week cut off – without consulting them.
Midwives are furious they were not consulted over supporting a campaign to remove the 24-week limit
Cathy Warwick is facing calls to step down as chief executive of the prestigious Royal College of Midwives (RCM) over the harrowing decision AND a clear conflict of interest which has also arisen.
Without consulting the union’s 30,000 members, she signed them up to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) campaign to “decriminalise” abortion by getting rid of the 24-week legal cut-off for abortions.
But Professor Warwick is also chairman of the BPAS, the country’s biggest abortion provider.
I would have thought the RCM should be protecting unborn life, Jim Shannon MP
“Appalled” MPs said Prof Warwick should resign and thousands of midwives and members of the public signed a petition called “Not in our name” which demands she reverse the policy as it “represents a disgraceful betrayal of her profession”.
Currently, the 1967 Abortion Act states an unborn baby can be aborted until 24 weeks’ gestation, with exceptions only allowed after that on medical grounds.
Professor Cathy Warwick is chair of the RCM and BPAS – which carries out abortions
The BPAS’s “We Trust Women” campaign was launched in February and proposes “the abortion time limit be removed from criminal law”.
Opponents fear changing the law could lead to healthy foetuses being aborted late in pregnancy for non-medical reasons including for the mother’s convenience or to choose the baby’s sex.
Advances in medical science are actually pointing towards lowering the 24-week limit as more premature babies are likely to survive now.
A statement released by the RCM last week when it formally joined the campaign, said it had the union’s “full support”.
It added: “The continued criminalisation of abortion in the UK may drive women to access abortion services which are neither safe nor legal.”
However, the undemocratic nature of the move and its resulting possible outcome has turned midwives and politicians against Professor Warwick.
Her two roles have also come under fire, with doctors and MPs saying the two positions are conflicting.
Royal College of Midwives
The Royal College of Midwives is meant to represent the UK’s 30,000 midwives
Judith Smyth, a midwife from Northern Ireland, said: “Anyone advocating allowing abortion up to birth, I think is so sad and tragic, but to have my own representative body coming out in support of this extreme view is very disappointing.
“I know she’s our chief, but there is clearly a conflict of interest. On something as big as this, she should have consulted us.”
Jim Shannon, a Democratic Unionist MP in Ulster, said he would put a question to Parliament this week.
He said: “I will ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions he has had, or will have, with the RCM and BPAS. My concern is that scrapping the 24-week cut-off would be absolutely disgraceful.
“I would have thought the RCM should be protecting unborn life. Its chief executive has this dual position and many people would say you can’t have that.”
The campaign aims to get the 24-week limit law removed
Labour MP Robert Flello, added: “I am utterly and completely appalled by this abhorrent proposal. This wasn’t a minor policy shift by the Royal College of Midwives, it was a fundamental change and the reason they didn’t ask their members is because they knew they wouldn’t get it past them.
“It is unacceptable that the RCM is led by someone so closely aligned to the biggest provider of abortions.”
An RCM spokesman said Professor Warwick, who was on a weekend walking holiday, had not consulted members on the issue.
He said: “The constitution allows for our members to elect the RCM board and for this body to set our strategic objectives.”
Anne Scanlan, of pro-life group Life Education, said: “This would legalise abortion-on-demand throughout the entire nine months of pregnancy, for any reason whatsoever.
“We know multitudes of midwives who will feel completely alienated and disenfranchised by this extreme and unnecessary move.
“We are deeply disappointed in the Royal College of Midwives for adopting this extreme policy without any consultation with its members whatsoever.”
Michelle Viney, a midwife for 15-years, added: “Why could the RCM think it could do this without asking any of their members? I find it so shocking.
“I financially support it, but I wouldn’t want to be paying a fee towards an organisation which is going to be campaigning for something which, morally, I 100 per cent disagree with.”
Andrew Percy MP, a Tory member of the commons’ health select committee said Professor Warwick’s roles at the RCM and the BPAS are “clearly a conflict of interest” and branded it “disgusting”.
The RCM spokesman added: “If we are to be advocates for women then we must advocate for choice on all aspects of their care.
“The RCM is not for or against abortion. It is for women, and respecting their choices about their bodies.
“NHS policy is explicit that high-quality maternity services include respecting women’s right to make reproductive choices.
“The RCM’s stance on decriminalisation of abortion is compatible with this.”
[16 May 2016, Alix Culbertson, http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/670674/Abortions-full-term-Royal-College-of-Midwives ]