14 FEBRUARY 1970, Page 25


From Professor Hugh Cameron McLaren, Randolph Vigne, Carl I. Hammer, lr, Chaim Raphael, 'Maurice Pierson, Philip Dudley Hawkins, the Rev Richard leans, P. S. Falla, P. I. Barnwell, Lady George Scott.

Abortion again

Sir: Dr Rowan Wilson (7 February) is in good form but he is not sure whether the consultant gynaecologist is a pelvic miner or a second class moral philosopher! In fact the gynaecologist is a doctor, but in the abortion discussions on any patient he (the surgeon) operates. It is not true that he has 'an absolute veto'. I myself carry out abortions after consultations with my colleagues in family practice or in psychiatry but 1 am not in a position to veto. If I conclude that in my opinion and in my experience an abortion would not be in our patient's interests I say so—and why—to the patient. I go on to make it clear that with her GP'S approval she has an absolute right to another opinion. Naturally, I have conscientious objection to referral to a self-elected 'counsellor' of the so-called 'Pregnancy Advisory Service' or to a London abortionist who for £200 will operate on request. But I write to make it clear that a kindly welcome and an opinion, then if need be another opinion, is the pa- tient's right.

Dr Rowan Wilson's '535 consultant gynaecologists in England and Wales' omits honorary NHS consultants such as professors and lecturers. It also forgets that at sixty-five a gynaecologist retires from hospital but not private practice. There is therefore a reserve corps of well over one hundred if we include senior men who retired without full consultant status, perhaps 150. Surely Mr Crossman could ask them to help? If Mr Godman Irvine's Bill is accepted by Parliament I feel sure that Mr Crossman will sigh with relief as his 'uncontrollable' (disgraceful) private abortion centres close their doors and patients come to the NHS not for abortion but for medical care, which may in fact include therapeutic abortion

Hugh Cameron McLaren Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. University of Birmingham