Back to all Motions

2009 National Women's Conference
23 October 2008

Conference believes that a woman’s right to choose with regards to abortion is fundamental to her political, social and economic equality. One in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime and therefore even more will face the difficult decision of how to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. Anti choice proponents continue to attempt to force the debate in the public arena to reducing the abortion time limit. They focus on sensationalist and irresponsible commentary about late abortions and aim to influence public opinion, which is currently seventy six per cent pro choice.

Each year, twenty million abortions take place in unsafe conditions and as a consequence, an estimated eighty thousand women die. Conference notes that the 1967 Abortion Act has saved the lives of thousands of women in the UK and that any reduction in time limit could put women’s lives at risk and lead to women being forced to bear children against their will. Conference notes with concern that the 1967 Act has never been extended to Northern Ireland. Women in Northern Ireland don’t have access to abortion services unless in exceptional circumstances. Many northern Irish women face travel to the UK to access abortion services at their own cost. Fees, accommodation, and travel expenses make the cost prohibitive for others.

Conference notes that often women face delays or obstruction when attempting to access abortion services. Women have reported delays beyond the three week waiting period for abortion services. Research indicates that twenty seven per cent of Primary Care Trusts have delays beyond three weeks due to under-funding in the NHS. An increase in the waiting time for accessing abortion services can also be exacerbated by the requirement to have the consent of two doctors. According to the Family Planning Association, eighteen to twenty four per cent of medical practitioners describe themselves as broadly anti abortion nd do not refer women.

Conference, therefore, opposes any attempt to restrict existing legal rights, and calls upon the National Women’s Committee to:

1)Maintain close links with Abortion Rights UK to defend the twenty four week time limit and ensure pro choice amendments are put forward to liberalise the current legislation.

2)Circulate The Abortion Rights Newsletter to all Branch Women’s Officers.

3)Work with the STUC, TUC and its affiliates to maintain its pro choice position.

4)Call for the extension of the 1967 Act to Northern Ireland.

5)Call for an end to the requirement for two doctors to approve abortion.

6)Call for the enablement of suitably trained healthcare professionals to carry out early abortions.

7)Call for tougher rules to be introduced on anti choice doctors alerting patients to the fact that they do not consult on abortions and referring to another doctor.

8)Report back at next conference on the progress to date.