British Pregnancy Advisory Service was established as a registered charity in 1968 to provide a safe, legal abortion service. Although the 1967 Abortion Act had legalised abortion, many hospitals were not providing abortion care and many doctors were still refusing to sanction them. Private abortions were expensive and therefore inaccessible to many women.
The then 'Birmingham Pregnancy Advisory Service' decided they would offer consultation and treatment services at affordable prices for all, and we became 'British Pregnancy Advisory Service'.
At the creation of our charity, women would still need to pay for their care themselves. Over the years we have worked with the National Health Service to ensure that access to abortion care is equitable, fast and free for the client.
Today we provide services on behalf of the NHS across the country from Cornwall to Scotland and in Wales also. Today over 95% of the women we take care of have their treatment paid for by the NHS.
Our political and advocacy work has, over time, meant we have been able to 'give a voice' to the women who use our services and protect it for future generations. We educate by providing tools and briefings. We provide comment and evidence for the media to use to inform the public.
We have become experts in our specialist area of healthcare meaning we help shape clinical and service standards with the medical colleges such as the Royal College of Obstetricians Gynaecologists or the Department of Health.
The decades of experience we have in providing abortion care has meant we've been able to innovate services and advocate changes to law and provision.
In the early 1990s we were the first UK organisation to develop the use of Early Medical Abortion known as the Abortion Pill, which revolutionised abortion services in this country. In order to make access to the Abortion pill further acceptable and safer we were compelled in 2011 to go the High Court to request an updated interpretation of the 1967 Abortion Act that would allow home administration of medication used in second part of the treatment.
Leading abortion charity BPAS takes legal action to make early abortion at home as straightforward and as safe as possible for UK women. (Press release 13th January 2011)
We were part of some very high profile court cases in 2014.
With the charity Birthrights we intervened in a case that had it been successful would have criminalised drinking alcohol during pregnancy and undermined a woman's bodily autonomy.
The second case in 2014 concerned a call for a broader interpretation of Conscientious Objection by two Scottish Midwives regarding providing care to women who are having an abortion.
They were seeking a legal protection from activities such as managing other staff, amongst other tasks, which were caring for women having an abortion. With the Royal College of Midwives we believe that the current Conscientious Objection rules go far enough in protecting the woman and the healthcare professional with an objection and to broaden the scope would in fact endanger and isolate women further.
The Supreme Court rejected the appeal meaning the current scope of Conscientious Objection remains in place.