Abortion Rights Blog

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AR Letter to MP’s RE: Bruce amendment to the Serious Crime Bill on 23.02.15

                                                                                                    Re: Bruce amendment to the Serious Crime Bill on 23.02.15

As the Chair of the campaign Abortion Rights I am writing to you to request that you defend the right to choose for women wanting to access abortion.

Fiona Bruce MP’s amendment to Part 5 of the Serious Crime Bill is an attempt to undermine the 1967 Abortion Act and women’s access to abortion. I am asking you to oppose this amendment as it jeopardises women’s full and equal access to all reproductive health services.

Since 1967 the Abortion Act has enabled women to access abortions in England, Wales and Scotland. One in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime. A consistent three quarters of people support a woman’s right to choose in Britain. However there is a vocal minority who continually seek to introduce amendments to legislation in Parliament that would undermine women’s bodily autonomy and existing law and practice.

If the Bruce Amendment is passed it will have the following impact:

  1. To give a foetus status in law as an ‘unborn child’ for the first time in UK legislation, thus opening up the legal possibility for a woman’s right to life to become secondary to that of a foetus. In the 1967 Abortion Act, the physical and mental health of the woman is the overriding concern of a doctor authorising abortion. This amendment introduces a specific prohibition that trumps the wellbeing and life of the woman.
  2. To make the vulnerable women that Fiona Bruce MP’s Sex Selection Bill (now withdrawn) claimed to protect, more vulnerable. If any woman is requesting an abortion against her will because she is being coerced, abused or threatened, it is vital that she can talk to the abortion referrer or provider about it, be supported to make her own decision and be signposted to agencies who can help her. This amendment criminalising a specific reason for abortion creates a barrier to her having that conversation with medical professionals and seeking support. Indeed, at worst this barrier may cement her connection to an abusive partner.
  3. To undermine confidentiality between doctors and their patient and deter doctors from referring women for abortion. The impact of increased scrutiny and regulation on the public’s trust in the medical profession to act in the interest of patients will impact on doctors’ willingness to get involved in abortion referral, and placing additional an inappropriate pressure on professionals in the health service. We are concerned that it risks encouraging doctors to enact some form of ethnic profiling that would, for example, require service providers to question Asian women specifically regarding their reasons for requesting abortion.

Regardless of an individual’s personal opinion on abortion, the Abortion Act allows women in England, Scotland and Wales to access safe and legal abortion’

Anti- abortion activists around the world are attempting to use the issue of sex selective abortion bans as a first step to undermine and prevent legal abortion. Gender equality is not advanced by enacting laws that place new restrictions on women’s bodies.

I would appreciate it if you could do one or more of the following:

  1. Vote against the amendment to the Serious Crime Bill
  2. Write an opinion piece or article for your website or local press about this attack and why you support women’s choice on abortion
  3. Add your voice on social media by tweeting your support to us. We have an example tweet which you can use: ‘Voting against serious crime bill amendment which attacks right to abortion @Abortion_Rights
  4. Attend our protest on Monday 9th February 2015 in Parliament Square at from 4-6pm before the expected vote at 4pm

You can find out more information on the Abortion Rights website, by getting in touch with Abortion Rights on 020 7923 9792 or choice@abortionrights.org.uk and by engaging with Abortion Rights on social media via the Twitter and Facebook page.

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you. My contact details are kerry@abortionrights.org.uk


Yours Sincerely,

Kerry Abel

Chair, Abortion Rights