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Nurses "should carry out abortions"

Doctors are expected to call for nurses and midwives to be allowed to perform abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy.

The issue will be discussed at the British Medical Association (BMA) annual conference as part of a debate over whether women should be given quicker access to terminations.

A motion due to be discussed at the event calls for a ban on the need for two doctors to sign consent for early stage procedures.

Other medics will say that women in the UK face barriers to getting abortions which results in delays accessing treatment.

The controversial issue has attracted more than 8,000 signatories, including 613 BMA members, to a petition calling for the motion to be rejected.

The Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives said they will comment on the issue after the debate.

Julia Millington, political director of the ProLife Alliance, said: "The proposal to allow nurses to carry out first trimester abortions is outrageous.

"Why should nurses be made to do the dirty work?

"We should be asking why doctors are increasingly disinclined to perform abortions."

Government figures published earlier this month showed that the number of abortions performed in England and Wales rose 3.9% in 2006.

The abortion rate was highest for women aged 19, at 35 per 1,000.

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Abortion numbers on the rise

British Medical Association