Women in the UK who need to access abortion services are still subject to the outdated and unfair 1967 Act. Unlike in the US and most of Europe, the law in Britain does not grant abortion on request, only if the pregnancy poses a risk to health or for severe fetal abnormality. The law also requires that two doctors must give consent for abortion. This is legally, medically and ethically unnecessary and is completely out of sink with other medical practices. Abortion and involuntary section under the mental health act are the only procedures in the UK which require two signatures. The most unfair aspect of the current abortion law is that it has never been extended to protect women in Northern Ireland. Abortion is almost completely restricted and every year thousands of women and girls are forced to travel to England to seek help.
In 2008 MPs had the chance to reform the Abortion Act to bring it more in line with what women need and what legal and medical consensus recommends. Pro-choice MPs tabled amendments to the Human Tissue and Embryology bill recommending positive reforms. But anti-choice MPs fought these moves and submitted amendments that would make it even harder and more distressing for women who need abortions (more info here). Sadly, despite huge public support and endorsement by medical professionals, MPs never got the opportunity to vote on reform.
Lobby for Reforms to the Abortion Act
All five MPs in Bristol have excellent pro-choice records and should be encouraged to push for a vote to positively reforms the Abortion Act. You can download a model letter to MPs here:
It is also useful to write to the local press. So much misinformation is spread about abortion in the UK that many people are not aware that abortion is still unavailable on request and that women can be unfairly delayed by this out of date law. The media tends to sensationalise the issue and demonise women who have abortions. However most people are pro-choice and reject the idea that women should be shamed for choosing to end a pregnancy. You can download a model letter to the editor here:
Join the Abortion Support Network.
The Abortion Support Network is group of volunteers who will provide a meal and a safe place to sleep for Irish women forced to travel to England for abortions. They are currently seeking volunteers and financial contributions
If you have a sofa, a futon, or an inflatable mattress and the desire to make a direct impact on women’s lives, please get in touch.
Petition for evidence based education - not misinformation
"The A Word" campaign aims to improve provision of education about pregnancy prevention, pregnancy decision-making and abortion in our schools. Organised by Education for Choice, which for 18 years has been active on one goal: to ensure that young people can receive accurate information and good quality education about abortion whoever they are and wherever they are.
Please sign the petition here.