LONDON — The leader of the Royal College of Midwives in the U.K. has joined an effort by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) to call for the legalization of abortion up to birth.
It is currently illegal to perform abortions after 24 weeks in the nation, unless for the life and health of the mother. Groups such as BPAS, the largest abortion provider in the U.K., have recently called for the prohibition to be removed.
Cathy Warwick, serves as the chairman of the board of trustees of BPAS, and is also the chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives. She released a statement earlier this year expressing the Royal College’s “full support” of the effort, which has now raised concern among pro-life midwives who state that Warwick does not speak for them. The organization has over 30,000 members.
“This is a fundamental issue about equality for women,” Warwick said. “It is about them having control over their own body and not having their bodies subject to the dictates of others, however well meaning.”
“I along with colleagues in other organizations and women’s groups call on the government to remove this legislation and to bring the U.K. in line with the many other countries around the world that have already done this,” she stated. “This is Victorian legislation that should already have been relegated to history, yet it is still deeply affecting women in the 21st century.”
Last week, Warwick released a position paper on the matter on behalf of the Royal College, stating that “the continued criminalization of abortion in the U.K. may drive women to access abortion services which are neither safe nor legal, and which may prove harmful or even fatal.” Warwick believes that abortion should be legal, and simply regulated like other medical procedures.
The development sparked the group Christian Concern to launch a petition calling upon Warwick to retract her statements and support for the legalization of abortion.
“It is extremely saddening that a profession which is directed towards helping mothers to give birth to their children is now actively promoting the destruction of those children at any stage of pregnancy,” the petition reads. “Not only that, but in doing so, you are also attempting to restrict the conscientious rights of members of your college—whom you did not even consult—in their involvement in abortion.”
“I implore you to listen to these women and the many midwives in the college. Most do not share the views of a small number in the RCM,” it continues. “You say ‘We Trust Women’: I ask you ‘which women? The born or the unborn? And why not both? Your positions represent a disgraceful betrayal of your profession and must be undone.”
The petition has generated over 34,000 signatures just since Sunday.
Warwick acknowledges that there was no consultation of members before releasing the statement. Dr. Peter Saunders, the chief executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship, told reporters that Warwick “needs to step down either from the RCM or BPAS, but cannot continue in both positions.”