Decriminalise Abortion

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2023 National Women's Conference
14 October 2022

Conference notes that:

• Abortion has been legal since the Abortion Act in 1967.

• There are very strict conditions that must be met for two doctors to agree to facilitate the process whether it is via medical or surgical conditions.

• Abortion legislation was devolved to Scotland in 2016 and the issue remains a responsibility for the Scottish Government, with all provisions made within the NHS, unlike elsewhere in the UK whereby most abortions are outsourcing to charitable organisations.

• Legislation states that a woman commits a criminal offence if she “unlawfully procures her own miscarriage” with punishment up to life in prison.

• This legislation also affects any doctor, nurse, or any other person who is deemed to have assisted in this activity.

• There are currently 2 women awaiting trial in the UK for following police investigations because the police have deemed that the necessary criteria laid down in the 1967 legislation were not met.

• It has been noted that the police now appear to be investigating more women who have accessed abortions.

Conference also notes that:

• Women remain subject to archaic, discriminatory, and stigmatising legislation removing their rights to bodily autonomy, privacy and which puts added stress and burdens on them.

• Those doctors, nurses and pharmacists who choose to be involved in this field, do so because they recognise the importance of ensuring that women have access to safe in TV abortion care, but should be able to do so without the added threat of criminal law.

Conference calls on the National Women’s Committee to:

• support the Abortion Rights campaign call for the full decriminalisation of abortion and for the Scottish and UK Governments to legislate to ensure women and medical staff can act within safe medical guidelines as for any other medical procedure.