DOCTORS union the BMA has said it will support medical practitioners who refuse to take part in the Government’s “shameful” rape clause assessments.

Recent welfare reforms impose a two-child limit on the tax credits a woman can claim.

One of the few exceptions to that limit is if a child has been conceived as a result of what the Government describe as “non-consensual conception”.

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Dr Peter Bennie, the chairman of BMA Scotland, said: “This legislation has been pushed through without thorough consultation with relevant stakeholders such as the BMA, and yet the regulations present significant ethical and professional challenges for doctors.

“The ‘rape clause’ is fundamentally damaging for women – forcing them to disclose rape and abuse at a time and in a manner not of their choosing, at pain of financial penalty.

“In addition to the likely negative impact on the woman and the doctor-patient relationship, there is also the impact on individual children, who may have been conceived through coercion or rape, to consider.

“This is an ill-conceived piece of legislation and I encourage doctors to consider very carefully whether to participate in this process or not.”

The move was welcomed by SNP MP Alison Thewliss, who has led a campaign calling for the two-child limit to be scrapped.

She said: “It is a strong message to the UK Government and a clear stand against the damaging and immoral rape clause which forces women to disclose rape and abuse to avoid a financial penalty.

Thewliss added: “The two-child restriction on tax credits has been opposed by many organisations as being damaging to family incomes, particularly those who are working in low-paid jobs.

“The UK Government now needs to listen to the BMA”.