Abortion Law Could Radically Change As MPs Propose Decriminalising Abortion Up To 24 Weeks

This legislation would also introduce protections against abortion access being stripped back.

Today, a cross-party group of MPs is proposing to make abortion access a human right in England and Wales. If the legislation is successful, this would lead to abortion being decriminalised up to 24 weeks and introduce protections against abortion access being stripped back.

This comes after The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) reported that “deeply traumatised” women are being prosecuted following abortions earlier this year.

In guidance advising healthcare providers not to report those that have had ‘illegal abortions’, the RCOG said that it is “never” in the public interest to report women who have had abortions and, in fact, these women must be safeguarded.

Dr Jonathan Lord, who co-chairs the RCOG abortion task force and the British Society of Abortion Care Providers told BBC News: “A law that was originally designed to protect a woman is now being used against her.

“We have witnessed life-changing harm to women and their wider families as a direct result of NHS staff reporting women suspected of crimes, and we just don’t think that would happen in other areas of healthcare.”

The proposed changes to abortion legislation issued today will modernise abortion access and protections.

The proposed amendments to abortion law in England and Wales

While the 1967 abortion act exempted women and those who assist them from prosecution under stringent conditions, the legislation is still proving to be harmful and enacted even today.

In fact, The Guardian reported back in 2022 that women were accused of illegal abortions in England and Wales after miscarriages and stillbirths.

Labour MP Stella Creasy said today: “While the case for decriminalisation is clear, how to do it in our current climate is not.

“Those who oppose abortion – whether they work in the NHS, the civil service or parliament – relish every chance to eat away at access to this service by demanding regulations and new guidance in the light of any legal changes.”

The amendment proposed by the cross-party group would define abortion as a human right. Creasy explained: “Enshrining abortion as a human right will prevent further attacks on access as well as those who assist women to ensure abortion can be safe, legal and local.”

The world’s leading human rights organisation, Amnesty International believes that this is essential. On their website, they said: “Preventing women and girls from accessing an abortion does not mean they stop needing one.

“That’s why attempts to ban or restrict abortions do nothing to reduce the number of abortions, it only forces people to seek out unsafe abortions.”