Abortion Rights welcomes the news that Royal College of Midwives are in support of decriminalisation of abortion.
‘The continued criminalisation of abortion in the UK may drive women to access abortion services which are neither safe nor legal, and which may prove harmful or even fatal. Accordingly the RCM supports the campaign to remove abortion from criminal law’
RCM Abortion Position
Abortion Rights believes that abortion should be available to women whenever it is needed. It’s important to deal with the facts not fear mongering around time limits. Only 1% of abortions were carried out after 20 weeks of pregnancy in England and Wales. Among those seeking abortion at this stage are women in difficult and vulnerable situations. They include young women concealing or in denial about their pregnancies; women unaware they were pregnant because they had been using contraception and women whose personal circumstances change dramatically after conceiving due to bereavement, family illness or domestic violence.
Often, the nature of foetal screening means most scans cannot be conducted until at least 20 weeks and sometimes later. There can also be delays in the process of diagnosing a serious foetal abnormality from this point, which means women are then further along in their pregnancy than the standard 24 week cut off. These are often wanted but unviable pregnancies. Any restrictions on the time limit would disproportionately impact women already in vulnerable and difficult personal situations.
Kerry Abel, Chair of Abortion Rights said ‘The decision to end a later pregnancy is not one that is taking lightly it is both insulting to women and unfounded to imply that any change in the law would result in an uptick of later abortion. We recognise that the RCM are acting in the interests of women’
In the UK women already face delays and barriers to access, including getting two doctors signatures – the only medical procedure that requires this. This is in a climate where according to a Marie Stopes attitude survey, 1 in 5 GPs declare that they are anti-abortion and cuts to NHS services are affecting waiting times for procedures.
Time limits have long been a wedge within the abortion debate, it’s vital that we don’t allow provocative headline distract us from the facts.
Anti-abortion groups are already using this coverage to attempt to put pressure on MPs to restrict access to a key public health services. They are not interested in protecting or improving women’s health and wellbeing.
Abortion Rights calls for full decriminalisation of abortion. We argue that it should be removed from criminal law and treated as any other medical procedure. The law ought to have no place in determining what should be a private decision, undertaken with sound medical advice. The different treatment afforded to abortion, in contrast to all other medical procedures, adds to the stigma surrounding termination.
Notes to Editors
- Abortion Rights is the UK pro-choice campaign, working to defend and extend abortion rights and provide a pro-choice voice to the media.
- For further comment please call Kerry Abel on 07979535242 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
- Read Abortion Rights full position statement on later abortions and decriminalisation here
- Currently, medical professionals can elect not to participate in performing abortions, but not from performing peripheral functions such as basic ward care for patients.
- One in three women will have an abortion by the time she is 45.
- Abortion is legal in England, Scotland and Wales provided two doctors agree the procedure is in the patient’s best interest.
- In the UK, a consistent three-quarters of people support a woman’s right to choose.
- Please visit our website www.abortionrights.co.uk and follow us on Twitter @Abortion_Rights