Abortion Rights Blog

The national pro-choice campaign

AR PRESS RELEASE – Victory for women! MPs vote to decriminalise abortion



Ten Minute rule bill

Today, MPs decisively voted for pro-choice amendments to the Offences Against the People Act (OPAP), MPs voted resoundingly 208 to 123. This was a huge victory for women, the pro-choice movement and Diana Johnson MP, who played a pivotal role. Thanks are due to many who campaigned and lobbied.

Kerry Abel, Abortion Rights Chair said:

‘The UK is pro-choice; it is time for an abortion law that reflects it. It is very encouraging that the parliament is taking active steps towards the decriminalisation of abortion across the United Kingdom.

Abortion Rights believes that abortion must be decriminalised immediately. Ensuring all women in the UK have access to safe and accessible healthcare is a fundamental human right.

This a big step forward for the women and girls of Northern Ireland; women should not be forced to hide their medical history from doctors for fear of imprisonment or face potential jail time should they make a full disclosure of an abortion.

Free, safe and local access to abortion is imperative in modern society where one in three women have an abortion before the age 45.

Abortion must be viewed as a medical procedure like any other medical practice. The enablement of a robust structure for healthcare professionals to provide best practice care for women is a cornerstone of society.’

Bill summary:

This initiative proposes to amend the law relating to abortion in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It 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.

Abortion Rights PR PDF 

Notes to the Editor:

Media contact for comment and interviews: Kerry Abel, National Chair, Abortion Rights (07979 535242)

Abortion Rights is the national pro-choice campaign. We are campaigning to defend and extend women’s rights and access to safe, legal abortion. We believe abortion law should be brought into line with public opinion – so that women can make their own reproductive decisions without the current unfair legal barriers, obstructions and delays.

  • According to OPAP Act, induced abortion is a crime throughout the British Isles. The 1967 Act added a range of exceptions to the crime laid out in statute and/or common law.
  • The Bill removes the criminal provisions from the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861 which underpins abortion law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Scotland is not included as the underlying legislation, the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act does not apply there.
  • The 10-minute debate cannot change legislation but will serve to raise awareness. Decrim of abortion would mean it would be treated like any other health issue
  • Diana Johnson MP and a cross-party coalition of MPs from five UK political parties launch a 10 Minute Rule Bill to decriminalize abortion in England and Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • MPs co-sponsoring the abortion bill are Dr. Sarah Wollaston MP, Dr. Roberta Blackman Woods MP, Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, Rt Hon Anna Soubry MP, Crispin Blunt MP, Liz Saville Roberts MP, Caroline Lucas MP, Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP, Jo Stevens MP, Stella Creasy MP and Christine Jardine MP.
  • The Bill was backed by
    • Royal College of Obstetricians Gynaecologists
    • The Royal College of Midwives
    • BMA
  • 2017, MPs have voted to decriminalize abortion in England and Wales MPs have backed a bill by 172 votes in favor, versus 142 against.