Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Memorandum 49

Submission from Madeleine Simms

  Your No 1 (a)  No doubt you have been in touch with Professor Val Beral FRS, Fellow of Green College, Oxford.

  (b)  It is unlikely that any two people could agree on what constitutes a "serious" abnormality so seeking a "definition" would be a waste of time.

  Once the doctors have given their best possible medical advice to the prospective mother and her partner, it must be up to them to decide whether they regard the condition as serious and whether they have the emotional, financial and time resources to take on this possibly onerous responsibility.

  It is important to understand that the local authorities who have to "statement" the child do this very reluctantly because caring for handicapped children in specialist institutions is so expensive that they restrict access to this service. Our local paper is full of angry letters from parents of such children. As you will know, because it attracted so much public attention, even a Labour cabinet minister, Ruth Kelly, decided to send her handcapped son to a private fee-paying institution as no adequate public provision was available in her area.

  Your No 2 (a)  No one any longer doubts that early abortion is much safer than full term delivery.

  (b)  The requirement for two doctors was a device inserted into the 1967 Abortion Act in order to appease the Pro-Life lobby. It did not succeed in this.

  (c)  Nurses and midwives already carry out more complicated procedures than early abortion.

  Your No 3: As aforesaid, Professor Beral could assist here.

  Restricting access to abortion has serious long term social implications. We know now to a greater extent than we understood in the l960s that our prisons are full of young people who were unwanted by their mothers and fathers, were neglected, unloved and sometimes ill-treated.

  The fact that it costs £40,000 a year to keep an adult in prison—and much more in a youth institution, is a sobering thought for the taxpayer.


  As the late great Scottish gynaecologist Sir Dugald Baird pointed out 40 years ago, it is fruitless to try and separate medical, scientific and social aspects in the field of abortion. They all have bearing on each other.

  Women who need abortions need to have them as early, safely and cheaply as possible. By cutting out time wasting bureaucracy the whole process can be speeded up, and with the money saved, birth control services can be improved.

  Submission from Madeleine Simms MA MSc now retired, formerly Senior Research Officer Institute for Social Studies in Medical Care, seconded to Department of Health Research Management Division 1988-91.

September 2007

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2007
Prepared 15 November 2007