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Urgent Call for Decriminalisation as Trial Collapses



Urgent Call for Decriminalisation as Trial Collapses

20 May 2024

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) expresses profound concern following the collapse of the trial involving two defendants who faced charges related to an alleged illegal abortion when they were teenagers in 2018.


Heidi Stewart, CEO at BPAS, said:

“Prosecuting women for ‘illegal’ abortion is never in the public interest. And it is certainly never in the public interest to subject anyone to six years of legal limbo.

"The collapse of this trial after such an extended period is a tragic example of the severe emotional and psychological toll that prolonged legal proceedings can inflict on individuals.

“The trauma and stigma associated with such prosecutions can have devastating effects on mental and physical health. The current legal framework fails to acknowledge the complex, often desperate situations of women hauled before the court accused of seeking abortions outside the legal parameters.

“On 4 June, MPs will have the chance to end the threat of police investigations, prosecutions and prison time for women by voting for Dame Diana Johnson MP’s amendment NC1 to the Criminal Justice Bill.

“The last 2 years have seen record numbers of women investigated for suspected illegal abortions. Women are facing years-long police investigations, their properties searched, blood samples taken without consent, being separated from their children, and getting arrested straight from the hospital ward. All for having an abortion.

“For the sake of our women - we urge MPs to do the right thing and put an end to the criminalisation of abortion for women.

"The justice system has failed these young individuals, turning their personal tragedy into a prolonged legal nightmare. This cannot continue. MPs must not stand by while women suffer. On 4 June, they must take up the historic opportunity to protect women's health, dignity, and rights by decriminalising abortion for women once and for all.”



For further information, please contact Georgina O’Reilly, BPAS Associate Director of Campaigns and Communications (maternity cover), on georgina.oreilly@bpas.org or 07384 891886.