bpas comment on BMA’s vote in favour of decriminalisation of abortion
“We welcome this important vote by the BMA, which shows doctors believe a woman should be trusted to make her own decision when faced with an unplanned pregnancy or a pregnancy she cannot continue, and that healthcare professionals should not risk criminal prosecution when they are providing women with safe, effective clinical care. Decriminalisation does not mean de-regulation, or that abortions could be legally performed on women by unqualified individuals: it would simply mean that abortion could be governed in the same robust way as all other clinical procedures are in the UK today, and that doctors could provide woman-centred care according to the highest clinical standards, rather than legislation that is now 50-years-old. It would also ensure that any woman who uses abortion medication without the authorisation of 2 doctors would no longer face the threat of life in prison, as is the case today.
"The 1967 Abortion Act was drafted at a time when surgical intervention was the only effective way to perform an abortion and before anyone could imagine that medication could be used to safely end a pregnancy as is possible now. Although the World Health Organisation recommends that women should be able to use this medication at home once prescribed by a doctor our current laws prevent this. Home use of abortion medication is standard practice in the US, France and Sweden but our laws mean women often have to attend multiple appointments to receive the pills - a real struggle for those with work and childcare commitments. As the pills can legally only be taken in a clinic, women have to rush home after swallowing - risking bleeding and miscarrying on the way home.
"Most women using bpas' services were using a method of contraception when they conceived. Contraception can let women down and most people do not believe it is right to compel a woman to continue a pregnancy she does not want and deliver a child she does not feel able to care for when she finds herself with an unplanned pregnancy. No other form of healthcare requires legal authorisation from 2 doctors before it can be performed. Decriminalisation would mean we could improve care practically for women, and it would also send a message that in 2017 we think women should be able to make their own decisions about their own pregnancies.”
For more information please contact the bpas press office on 0207 061 3377, 07788 725185 or firstname.lastname@example.org