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. During 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.