Abortion Rights Blog

The national pro-choice campaign

Ten Minute Rule Bill – act before 23 October

A Ten Minute Rule bill on abortion to be heard next week; this bill looks to repeal S.59 and S.60 and amend S.58 of the 1861 Offences Against the Person’s Act

On 23 October 2018, Diana Johnson MP and a cross-party coalition of MPs will introduce a Ten Minute Rule Bill to decriminalise abortion in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland

Our summary:

This Bill proposes to amend the law relating to abortion in England and Wales, and Northern Ireland. This bill aims to remove criminal liability in respect of abortion performed with the consent of the pregnant woman up to the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy; to repeal sections 59 and 60 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861; to create offences of termination of a pregnancy after its twenty-fourth week and non-consensual termination of a pregnancy; to amend the law relating to conscientious objection to participation in abortion treatment; and for connected purposes.

This Bill will create a law that is based on women’s welfare and best medical practice.

It ensures that no crime would be committed by a woman who ends her own pregnancy. This Bill also ensures that: Abortion up to 24 weeks would no longer be a crime in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland. After 24 weeks, healthcare professionals would remain subject to the same restrictions as those contained in the current law.

However, non-consensual abortion caused either on purpose or recklessly by violence or administration of abortion pills without consent will be subject to a new criminal offence that would carry a life sentence. Additionally, the current law allowing healthcare professionals to conscientiously object to hands-on participation in abortion treatment would be retained in England and Wales and extended to Northern Ireland.

The Bill will not remove regulation of abortion Decriminalisation does not mean deregulation. Abortion would be treated like any other clinical procedure and would be governed by long-standing medical regulation. Abortion would need to be performed in line with professional guidance and only by qualified healthcare professionals; any service or individual involved in poor practice would face disciplinary and potentially criminal sanctions. There is nothing in the 1967 Abortion Act that makes provision for the safeguarding of young or vulnerable women, access to counseling services, or specifies that informed consent must be obtained before an abortion can be lawfully performed. The Act is entirely silent on these issues. These provisions and safeguards are all contained in entirely separate bodies of regulation, common law and legislation, which would remain firmly in place were abortion decriminalised.

Take Action: 

  • Email your MP click here
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