By Jeff Ditchfield
From 1861 until 1967 abortion was illegal in the UK.
Under the Offences Against the Person Act it was an offence to supply or use any “poison or other noxious thing” or to use “any instrument or other means” to cause a woman to miscarry. This act outlawed abortion by either the woman or any other person including a doctor, nurse, midwife or pharmacist.
In 1938, a brave doctor Alec Bourne performed an illegal abortion on a 14-year-old girl who had been raped by five soldiers, in his “medical opinion” it was necessary to conduct an abortion to avoid the girl becoming “a nervous wreck”.
After conducting the abortion Dr Bourne confessed to the police and he was subsequently charged with performing an illegal abortion, he was put on trial at Crown Court (R v Bourne ) where he was acquitted by the jury.
Mr Justice Macnaghten said in his judgement:
“If the doctor is of the opinion, on reasonable grounds and with adequate knowledge, that the probable consequence of the continuance of the pregnancy will be to make the woman a physical or mental wreck, the jury are entitled to take the view that the doctor is operating for the purpose of preserving the life of the mother”
After the acquittal abortions were carried out by physicians in cases where the woman’s physical or mental health was deemed to be in danger.
According to the General Medical Council there are 238,000 doctors in the UK and not one of them has written out a prescription for cannabinoids to treat children dying from cancer, where is today’s Dr Bourne?
If a UK doctor is willing to write a prescription for a cancer patient and if a UK pharmacist is unwilling or unable to fulfil it then I can.