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Thursday, June 27, 2019, Issue 134

Society endorses campaign to decriminalise abortion

The UK Council of the SoR has voted to support the We Trust Women coalition of organisations promoting the campaign to allow women to make their own decisions about abortion.

A woman who ends a pregnancy without authorisation from two medical practitioners can be prosecuted under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, or equivalent common law legislation in Scotland.

We Trust Women believes that a woman should not face prosecution for inducing a miscarriage and no doctor should be charged for giving ‘safe abortion care’.

The campaign website says, “In the 21st century, we should be trusting women to make their own decisions about their own pregnancies, and removing the threat of prosecution from those healthcare professionals providing women with the services and support they need.”

The 1967 Abortion Act allowed terminations when women and doctors meet certain requirements. One of the campaign’s concerns is that the current law causes unnecessary delay for women who are certain of their decision to terminate their pregnancy. 

According to the campaign, “Provisions in the Act are also used to prevent women from taking medication for an early abortion at home in their own time, after it has been prescribed by a doctor, as women experiencing miscarriage are currently able to do.”

The former chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, Cathy Warwick, wrote, “We are recommending that abortion procedures be regulated in the same way as all other procedures relating to women’s healthcare. This would mean that decisions on treatment would occur in the same way that any other clinical decisions are reached, through discussion between the woman, her doctors and other medical staff.”

We Trust Women is supported by a range of groups and organisations including the TUC, Royal College of Midwives, Equality Now, NASUWT Teachers Union, National Education Union, PCS, Unison, and Usdaw.

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