John Marks calls for abor­tion laws to be made more le­nient

The Jewish Chronicle - - PEOPLE -

JOHN MARKS, a for­mer chair of the Bri­tish Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, has wel­comed this week’s de­ci­sion by MPs to re­ject a cut in the time limit for abor­tions. He is now call­ing for cur­rent laws to be liberalised to­wards abor­tion on de­mand.

Dr Marks, 82, one of the UK’s best-recog­nised med­i­cal names, tells Peo­ple: “I see no rea­son to in­volve two doc­tors. I be­lieve it is a mat­ter of choice for the wo­man. The life that mat­ters is the po­ten­tial mother, not the un­born foe­tus. There’s no con­test.”

His com­ments come fol­low­ing Tues­day’s de­ci­sion by MPs to keep the abor­tion time limit at 24-weeks. Dur- ing his ca­reer, Dr Marks has ac­tively cam­paigned for women to have the right to abor­tions. Qual­i­fy­ing as a doc­tor in 1948 — the same year the NHS was founded — Dr Marks has fought against many of the pro­posed med­i­cal re­forms. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he bat­tled with for­mer health sec­re­tary Ken­neth Clarke over the in­tro­duc­tion of an in­ter­nal mar­ket. Dr Marks has de­cided to chron­i­cle such ex­pe­ri­ences in his new au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, The NHS: Be­gin­ning, Mid­dle and End?

Out this week, it gives a frank ac­count of his in­volve­ment with the NHS, and some of the in­di­vid­ual clashes he en­coun­tered along the way — in­clud­ing one with the late Chief Rabbi, Lord Im­manuel Jakobovits, as re­ported in the JC in 1988. Dr Marks ex­plains: “The Chief Rabbi wrote to ev­ery ‘Jewish’ doc­tor say­ing so­cial abor­tion was a grave of­fence. I replied to him say­ing that I am proud to be Jewish, but be­lieve the life and health of moth­ers have been ig­nored for too long by those who la­bel them­selves pro-life.” Dr Marks, an Alyth Gar­dens shul mem­ber, sent a copy of the let­ter to the JC. It ap­peared un­der the head­ing “Doc­tors Clash with Chief”.

Dr Marks, who lives in St John’s Wood with his wife Shirley, ac­knowl­edges he has seen some enor­mous med­i­cal ad­vances. “When I was a stu­dent, the idea of a hip re­place­ment would have been science fiction.” He de­scribes the NHS as the great­est so­cial ex­per­i­ment in his­tory.

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