THE British Medical Association has backed a boycott of the so-called “rape clause”, condemning it as an “abhorrent attack on low income families and children”

A motion passed by the BMA’s UK council said the doctors’ union would “fully support” any of its members who refused to participate in the “shameful process”.

The SNP, Labour and LibDems, who all oppose the Tory benefit policy, applauded the move.

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The clause is an exemption from the two-child limit on child tax credit which began in April.

Women who have had a later child as a result of rape, or during a coercive relationship, are allowed to claim extra benefit if they recount their ordeal to a third party professional, such as a doctor.

They must also name their child as part of completing an eight-page form about the rape.

Politicians of all Holyrood parties bar the Conservatives have attacked the policy as immoral and a grotesque invasion into the lives of rape victims and called for it to be scrapped.

The BMA motion noted the role doctors played in the assessment process and condemned the restriction of benefits to families with more than two children.

It said the rape clause forced people “to relive a terrible ordeal in order to be eligible to be paid child support” and presented doctors with “both ethical and professional challenges".

It said the BMA “believes that many doctors will choose not to participate in this process, and fully supports them in that decision”.

Dr Peter Bennie, Chair 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.”

Alison Thewliss, the SNP MP for Glasgow Central who led opposition to the clause in the Commons, said: “This 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.

"The UK Government now needs to listen to the BMA as well as many other organisations who are calling out the rape clause for what it really is - absolutely shameful."

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: “I welcome the BMA joining the long list of people and organisations who have condemned the Tories’ horrific rape clause.

“Forcing rape victims to fill out a form acknowledging their child is the result of rape is one of the most vile policies ever introduced by a Tory government, and that is saying something.”

Scottish LibDem social security spokesperson Caron Lindsay added: “Theresa May and Ruth Davidson have been warned time and time again that the demands of this legislation inflict trauma on women by forcing them to disclose abuse under the threat of a financial penalty.

“It’s utterly damning of the government’s plans that this saga has got to the point where doctors on both sides of the border are saying that they could choose not to participate in the assessments demanded by this awful legislation."

“The Conservative party should listen to the advice of the medical establishment and voluntary sector organisations and change direction immediately.”

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has previously defended the two-child benefit cap and the rape clause, but said she is open to a review of how it operates in practice.

Scottish Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs said: “The UK government did consult widely on how the exemptions to the two child tax credit limit would operate and always aimed to ensure these were delivered in the most effective and compassionate way possible.

“If the BMA has any positive ideas about how the operation of this policy could be improved then they should approach the UK Government to set these out in a constructive way.”