We stand in solidarity with the women of Poland. The draconian restrictions that have been introduced – which will force women to continue a pregnancy and give birth to a baby that cannot survive or is already dead – is shameful, even by the standards of Polish abortion law. This will force women to travel overseas for care, during a global pandemic, at a huge emotional and financial cost. For those women who cannot afford to travel, they will have no option but to seek abortion medication online, risking criminalisation.
We cannot be complacent about reproductive rights. These hard earned victories can be rolled back at the whim of a small handful of individuals. Currently, most women in Great Britain experiencing an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy will be able to access the care they need. However, we must not forget that abortion is still a crime, and any woman who ends a pregnancy outside of the terms of the 1967 Abortion Act, for example by using pills purchased online, can be sentenced to up to life imprisonment, and MPs in Westminster still have the power to impose restrictions. The only way to protect access to abortion care permanently is to decriminalise abortion, removing the ability of politicians to control women’s reproductive rights, and that is what we are calling for here in the Great Britain.
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BPAS is a charity which sees almost 100,000 women a year for reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. BPAS also runs the Centre for Reproductive Research and Communication, which seeks to develop and deliver a research agenda that furthers women’s access to evidence-based reproductive healthcare, driven by an understanding of women’s perspectives and needs. You can find out more here.
BPAS intends to launch a not-for-profit fertility service in Spring 2021, to provide ethical, evidence based, person-centred care that supports patients. We intend to only charge what it costs to provide a safe, high-quality, and accessible service to patients who may be unable to access NHS funded care.