MPs have demanded a criminal investigation into evidence that doctors illegally pre-signed abortion forms without knowing anything about the women requesting terminations.
The Telegraph reports that 11 MPs wrote to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police after the General Medical Council (GMC) ruled out taking action against the 67 doctors involved. Although the GMC ruled that the practice was “wrong” and told the doctors to “obey the law” in future, they took no further action, saying that what the doctors did was “common practice”.
The letter said:
“Normally where criminal conduct is suspected of a doctor, the GMC’s fitness to practise panels will suggest a public hearing, enabling police involvement where appropriate.
“However, none of the cases of pre-signing were referred for public hearings, no serious internal disciplinary action was taken, and no information was passed on to the police for investigation.”
The cross-party group of MPs, including former Defence Secretary Liam Fox, himself a doctor by profession, wrote to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe asking him to launch an investigation into “the alleged criminal activity of 67 doctors”.
Other MPs who co-signed the letter include Conservatives Mark Hoban, Theresa Coffey, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Jeremy Lefroy, David Burrowes, Fiona Bruce and Julian Brazier, and Labour’s Frank Field, Jim Dobbin and Robert Flello.
In the UK, an abortion can only be performed if two doctors agree that the physical or mental health of the mother or child could be in jeopardy. It is recommended that at least one doctor should meet the woman seeking a termination, with both doctors having studied her medical records.
The 67 doctors involved in the scandal, however, had pre-signed the abortion forms without knowing anything about the women for whom they would be used. One doctor had signed so many that the hospital they worked for was still using them four years after they had left.
One of the signatories, Fiona Bruce, who chairs the all-party group on abortion on disability grounds, also called for an investigation by the Department of Health. She told the Telegraph:
“With increasing concerns about reports of girls being aborted on the ground of their gender, with abortions being carried out up to birth for treatable disabilities, and with the apparently criminal pre signing of abortion certificates on such a widespread scale, urgent action should now be taken by the Department of Health to address these issues.”
A spokeswoman for Scotland Yard said: “The Commissioner’s office has confirmed that they have received the letter, they are carefully considering its contents.”