STATEMENT ON THERAPEUTIC ABORTION
Adopted by the 24th World Medical Assembly, Oslo, Norway,
1. The first moral principle imposed upon the
doctor is respect for human life as expressed in a clause of the
Declaration of Geneva: "I will maintain the utmost respect for human
life from the time of conception."
2. Circumstances which bring the vital interests of a mother
into conflict with the vital interests of her unborn child create a
dilemma and raise the question whether or not the pregnancy should
be deliberately terminated.
3. Diversity of response to this situation results from the
diversity of attitudes towards the life of the unborn child. This is
a matter of individual conviction and conscience which must be
4. It is not the role of the medical profession to determine
the attitudes and rules of any particular state or community in this
matter, but it is our duty to attempt both to ensure the protection
of our patients and to safeguard the rights of the doctor within
5. Therefore, where the law allows therapeutic abortion to be
performed, or legislation to that effect is contemplated, and this
is not against the policy of the national medical association, and
where the legislature desires or will accept the guidance of the
medical profession, the following principles are approved:
a) Abortion should be performed only as a therapeutic
b) A decision to terminate pregnancy normally should be
approved in writing by at least two doctors chosen for their
c) The procedure should be performed by a doctor competent to
do so in premises approved by the appropriate authority.
6. If the doctor considers that his convictions do not allow
him to advise or perform an abortion, he may withdraw while ensuring
the continuity of (medical) care by a qualified colleague.
7. This statement, while it is endorsed by the General
Assembly of the World Medical Association, is not to be regarded as
binding on any individual member association unless it is adopted by
that member association.