Return to the BPAS home page

Press Releases

Press Office

BPAS conference press release ‘Expanding the role of nurses in UK abortion care’

Published 26 June 2008

Please see below for comment from today’s conference of the sexual and reproductive healthcare charity BPAS (the British Pregnancy Advisory Service), ‘The Future of Abortion: Controversies & Care', on the role of British nurses in abortion care.

Amendments have been put the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill currently going through Parliament to allow nurses to take a fuller role in abortion care and MP’s expect to debate this in early July.


Kathy French, a nurse working in sexual health and abortion for 15 years who has been involved in government and professional body advisory work in this area, believes that nursing role has changed and that the law on abortion needs to change to reflect this for nurses who want to work in abortion care. She said 

‘Nurses with the appropriate training should be able to sign the legal grounds to allow women to have abortions. Nurses should also be able to provide early surgical abortions and to prescribe the abortion medication used in the first 9 weeks of pregnancy. This is normal practice in other countries. 

‘The nursing role has moved on across all aspects of healthcare in the last forty years- healthcare which nurses routinely provide now could not have been envisaged then. Unfortunately, the way that British law on abortion was written in 1967 means that now we are falling behind in being able to provide care that is truly centred around women’s needs.  

Mary Fjerstad, Director of Quality and Learning at Planned Parenthood the specialist reproductive healthcare provider in the United States said that national access to abortion at the earliest stages was improved where nurses are allowed to provide abortion care.  

‘Approximately half of the 364,000 early medical abortions provided by Planned Parenthood clinics have been provided by nurses with advanced training. This has greatly enhanced the potential of medical abortion to be accessible to women who otherwise would have limited, or no access to abortion.  

‘Advanced practice nurses work in remote rural areas, in small towns and in under served areas where there are no physicians trained to, or willing to provide abortion.  

‘Expanding the pool of abortion providers to permit advanced practice nurses to perform early medical (and in some states, surgical) abortion, makes access to early abortion a reality. Women can receive early abortion at a clinic near their home, where they already receive other health care, by a clinician who they know and trust.’ 



For more information, or to arrange an interview please contact the BPAS press office on 07788 725 185.

BPAS, (the British Pregnancy Advisory Service) has been providing health services since 1968. BPAS’ conference ‘The Future of Abortion: Controversies & Care' is on Wednesday 25 June - Thursday 26 June at the QEII Conference Centre in Westminster. Please see the conference website ( for more details and a full conference programme. 

Amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill have been put down for debate (expected in early July) in the House of Commons, which would allow nurses with suitable training to take part in abortion care wherever appropriate, (eg as suitably trained doctors do now under the current law). This amendment would not allow nurses to sign to certify the legal grounds for abortion, which would still be reserved to two doctors (or, according to a different amendment, possibly for one doctor to sign). (  


Return to previous page