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Vacuum aspiration for induced abortion could be safely and legally performed by nurses and midwives

Abstract

Background Some 40% of abortions carried out in England and Wales are done by vacuum aspiration. It is widely assumed that, in order to be lawful, these procedures must be performed by doctors.

Aim and design This study aimed to provide a detailed reassessment of the relevant law and the clinical evidence that supports this assumption.

Conclusions A close reading of relevant law reveals that this assumption is unfounded. On the contrary, it would be lawful for appropriately trained nurses or midwives, acting as part of a multidisciplinary team, to carry out vacuum aspiration procedures. This interpretation of the law offers the potential for developing more streamlined, cost-effective abortion services, which would be both safe and highly acceptable to patients.

  • abortion
  • family planning service provision
  • medico-legal

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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Footnotes

  • Funding Arts and Humanities Research Council (AH/L006537/1).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Authors’ note A more detailed account of the legal analysis contained in this article, contextualised within a broader consideration of the Abortion Act (1967), is provided in a recent Modern Law Review article.16

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