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The barrier to abortion is politics
  1. Ann Furedi
  1. Chief Executive, British Pregnancy Advisory Service, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
  1. Correspondence to Ms Ann Furedi, British Pregnancy Advisory Service, 20 Timothys Bridge Road, Stratford Enterprise Park, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire CV37 9BF, UK; ann.furedi{at}

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Two statements by 100 USA professors

In 1972, 100 American professors of obstetrics published a statement setting out the benefits they believed legalised abortion could deliver for their nation and for its women.1 Forty years later, the next generation of professors have weighed their colleagues’ expectations against their own professional experience, and state: “We have had 40 years of medical progress but have witnessed political regression that the 100 professors did not anticipate”.2

The 100 American professors writing today document a barrage of policy and legal assaults that have impeded the development of the abortion services that their mentors strived to achieve. Abortion per se, they conclude, is no cause for clinical concern – but political opposition to abortion is. Conservative resistance to abortion has, according to the authors of the statement2 published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and reprinted in Contraception, brought threats to: the autonomy of the doctor-patient relationship; evidence-based medical practice; the training of students and residents; and, ultimately, the health of patients.

In short, insofar as abortion is a problem today, it is a matter of its politics, not its practice.

Advances in technology

Today's obstetrics and gynaecology professors know, as a matter of proven fact, that high-quality, affordable, acceptable abortion services can be developed and that they bring social and personal benefits. Their concern is whether such services may be developed. When it comes to abortion, the question is: will governments allow doctors to do their best for patients?

The tremendous advances in reproductive health during the past 40 years are indisputable. In most countries in the developed North, women are better able to prevent pregnancy with a wider choice of more effective contraceptive methods. If abortion is necessary, in early pregnancy mifepristone and misoprostol provide an experience of early abortion that is similar to a ‘spontaneous miscarriage’ …

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