3 JUNE 1972, Page 28

Abortion poser

From Professor Glanville Williams Sir: — John Rowan Wilson says (May 13) that "abortion on demand" (a somewhat misleading expression for abortion by arrangement) is not possible because "the administrative and financial problems alone would be formidable." This makes the usual error of confounding the morality of abortion with administrative problems. Surgical operations are not made criminal because their performance would impose a strain on the Health Service, or even because they are sometimes unwise for the patient. Abortion was originally made illegal on supposed moral grounds. If we change our minds about the social morality, as many people have, then the justification for punishing medical terminations of pregnancy disappears, even though it may be im possible at present to make full provision for them. To argue that because some abortions cannot at present be added to the load on the Health Service they must remain criminal for the private sector is strange logic to be presented in a generally conservative journal. Besides, if the law were altered to legalise medical abortion fully, there would be some saving for the Health Service in being able to dispense with psychiatric opinions that are now sometimes thought to be necessary in order to comply with the law.

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