- Global political shifts – including Trump Presidency – demonstrate that women’s right to choose is never secure
- 50 years since 1967 Abortion Act was passed, the next parliament will have opportunity to progress – or roll back – reproductive choice across the UK
- Pro-choice campaigners launch My Pledge, Her Choice to urge candidates to commit to defending and extending reproductive rights
In less than two weeks, the UK will elect a new parliament which will have the potential to progress – or reverse – abortion rights across the UK. Campaigners are calling on the pro-choice majority to make their voices heard and ensure that their next MP, whatever their party, commits to supporting reproductive rights.
While it is often assumed abortion rights are secure in the UK, women can still face criminal sanction for ending a pregnancy without two doctors’ permission, women in Northern Ireland are denied abortion care in their own country, and anti-abortion clinic protests are on the rise.
Before the snap-election was called, the first pro-choice parliamentary bill to amend our abortion law passed its first stage in the House of Commons. The Reproductive Healthcare (Access to Terminations) Bill 2017, tabled by Diana Johnson and supported by a cross-party group of MPs, sought to decriminalise abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy in England and Wales. The bill passed its first reading on 13th March, but ran out of time in the parliamentary session. Consequently, women across the UK remain at risk of criminal prosecution for ending a pregnancy without the authorisation of two doctors.
Due to their strict abortion laws, women resident in Northern Ireland are unable to access care in their own country and also denied NHS-funded treatment in England. Anti-abortion clinic protests are also on the rise across the UK, yet successive government ministers have refused to take action. MPs elected on June 8th will hold the power to address these vital issues, but, worryingly, will also hold the power to further restrict abortion rights.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) and UK Friends of Planned Parenthood (UKFPP) today launch new push for candidates in the 2017 general election to commit to women’s reproductive rights.
bpas and UKFPP have launched the online campaign urging constituents to ask their parliamentary candidates from all the main political parties to sign My Pledge, Her Choice, a commitment to three main pledges:
- Protect clinic access and funding for all UK women
- Oppose parliamentary attacks on abortion rights
- Support further moves to decriminalise abortion, in line with the Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill 2017
Clare Murphy, Director of External Affairs at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, bpas, said:
“Polling has demonstrated that the majority of the British public support a woman’s right to choose. Moreover, the majority support a more progressive framework and are opposed to the current criminalisation of women who end a pregnancy without two doctors approval. Regardless of party allegiance, we urge party candidates to commit to defending and extending reproductive rights for all women across the UK, from Belfast to Brighton. Our country is pro-choice – our parliament should reflect that.”
Jade Azim of UK Friends of Planned Parenthood has said:
“Reproductive choice and the progress of women’s rights is never secure. Elections across the world have shown that women’s rights are always on the ballot. We are excited to launch My Pledge, Her Choice to ensure our candidates here in the UK are on the side of the majority, so that Parliament can guarantee and extend a woman’s right to choose.”
Notes to Editors:
bpas is a charity which sees more than 70,000 women a year and provides reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. More information can be found at bpas.org
About UK Friends of Planned Parenthood
UKFPP is a new organisation, established to fundraise for US reproductive services in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory. The organisation held its first fundraiser in January, raising over £4000 for Planned Parenthood. We have since extended outwards to partner with sister organisations to advocate, raise awareness for and support reproductive choice. Follow the organisation on twitter here.