Abortion Rights notes the announcement by David Mundell MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, of the UK Government’s decision to devolve abortion law to the Scottish Parliament. We register our concern that there has not been the wider consultation with civic Scotland and women’s organisations, urged by the Smith Commission, prior to the announcement. We have in the past expressed and highlighted concerns about differential provision across borders. However, Abortion Rights welcomes the statements by both the UK Government and the Scottish Government which indicate there is no intention to alter the legal framework set by the 1967 Abortion Act, whilst registering our view that improvements to that framework can and should be made, to ensure women have access to the services they need.
Abortion Rights is the national pro-choice campaign, with supporters across the United Kingdom, including an active Abortion Rights Scotland Committee. We believe that women should be able to make their own reproductive decisions without barriers and delays, or differences in access to services as a result of where a woman lives. We remain committed to campaigning for women’s rights to access abortion services in the North and South of Ireland. Women should not have to travel away from their own communities and families to access services.
One immediate area of concern has been highlighted by the recent MRC collaborative research report on Women’s Experiences of Late Terminations in Scotland. Women, requiring late terminations, (after 18 weeks) not being able to access a service in Scotland, and have had to travel to clinics in England. Whilst this is funded by NHS Scotland, in line with the provisions of the 1967 Abortion Act, it is unacceptable, and we look forward to the Scottish Government taking urgent action to resource services directly provided through NHS Scotland, in Scotland.
Abortion Rights remains committed to improving women’s access to, and experience of, abortion, and we will continue to campaign to ensure that all women in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland have equal access to safe, legal and free abortion, without barriers or judgement. This is the context in which we will approach the decision to devolve abortion law to the Scottish Parliament.
Media contact: Ann Henderson 07875 208167