Rape Crisis & other women's rights groups call on MPs to back Abortion Bill
22 Oct 2018
On 23rd October 2018, Members of Parliament will have the opportunity to vote on a Ten-Minute Rule Bill to take abortion out of the criminal law in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. This is a key measure for protecting the right to access abortion services, particularly for women in abusive or controlling relationships.
The End Violence Against Women Coalition, the Fawcett Society, Imkaan, Rape Crisis England & Wales, Southall Black Sisters and Women’s Aid Federation of England support this bill and ask MPs to vote in favour.
Under a law from 1861, abortion remains a crime in the UK, with a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The 1967 Abortion Act gave some women access to abortion, but it did not apply to Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland’s restrictive abortion law has been repeatedly condemned in recent years, including by the Supreme Court which called it “untenable” and in need of “radical reconsideration”, and by UN Human Rights body CEDAW which called it a “grave and systematic” violation of NI women’s rights.
In England, Wales and Scotland, the 1967 Act permitted abortion in certain circumstances, but it did not replace the underlying 1861 law or decriminalise abortion. If the strict stipulations of the 1967 Act are not met, women and their doctors remain at risk of prosecution.
This is why women’s organisations are now calling for abortion to be decriminalised across the UK – enabling women to make their own decisions about their bodies and healthcare without the risk of prosecution.
In this briefing you will find:
- A summary on current abortion law, including in Northern Ireland
- How the current law restricts the ways in which abortion services can be provided and accessed
- A focus on the needs of victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, and so-called "honour-based‟ violence
- Excerpts of women's stories who have faced difficulties in accessing treatment