Letter: Access to abortion

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Sir: Contrary to the assertion given in your editorial of 20 January, the Abortion Act of 1967 has not ensured that abortion is generally available to women. Whether a woman can obtain an early abortion frequently depends on her doctor's view and where she lives.

We receive calls every day from distressed women whose doctors have refused to refer them for an abortion on the basis of the doctor's personal interpretation of the law or moral objection to abortion.

It is also apparent from government figures that it is far more difficult to get an abortion in some parts of the country than others. The inequality ranges between Northumberland, where nine out of ten abortions are paid for by the NHS, to North-west Lancashire, where the figure is fewer than three in ten.

Frank Dobson's statement that it should be made easier to obtain an early abortion is strongly supported by the Family Planning Association. We wish to see the law changed to allow abortion on request in the first three months of pregnancy. Women will continue to need abortions, so it is essential to ensure that these can take place as early as possible.

ANNE WEYMAN

Chief Executive

Family Planning Association

London N1

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