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Abortion Is Legal In U.K. But For How Long? The Updates You Need To Know.

In the United Kingdom, whatever your feelings on abortion, we are generally confident that should we need it, our choice is legal and supported under the the Abortion Act of 1967, which allows the procedure under specific conditions.

You might think it’s all clear-cut but there’s a twist. Thanks to some really old laws, it’s not as straightforward as it should be. This affects loads of women and people who can get pregnant, making what should be a personal health decision into a legal drama. We’re here to break it down for you, keep it real, and talk about why this matters for everyone’s rights and choices.

Pregnancy Tests

Who Does This Affect?

Abortion laws in the UK impact women and anyone who can get pregnant. It’s a big deal because it’s about their bodies and choices. Around 200,000 abortions are carried out in England and Wales each year and just under 14,000 in Scotland.

What Is the Current Law?

Abortion is permitted on the grounds of risk to the woman’s physical or mental health, risk to the woman’s existing children, or a risk of injury to the woman’s physical or mental health. Here is the link to the UK Legislation.

You can get an abortion if two doctors agree, but there’s an old law from 1861 that can still make it a crime. This means it’s not just a health issue—it’s a legal one too.

In 2019, the UK Parliament repealed most restrictions on abortion in Northern Ireland, and the current Regulations were subsequently introduced in 2020.

When Did This Happen?

Back in 1967, the UK made abortion legal with some rules. But in 2022, two women almost went to jail because of the old law. Plus, the government quietly backed away from supporting abortion rights in an international agreement.

Abortion in the United Kingdom

De facto available under the terms of the Abortion Act 1967 in Great Britain and the Abortion (Northern Ireland) (No.2) Regulations 2020 in Northern Ireland.

Where This Is Going On?

It’s not just a problem somewhere else—it’s right here at home.

In the Courts: A landmark case was brought to the High Court by Heidi Crowter, a woman with Down’s syndrome, and Máire Lea-Wilson, whose son has Down’s syndrome. They argued that the current law allowing abortion up to birth for disabilities like Down’s syndrome is discriminatory and violates human rights laws.

Through Legislation: MPs are set to vote on an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill that would decriminalise abortion by removing offences that make self-abortion illegal at any stage of pregnancy.

In Criminal Prosecutions: There have been cases of women being prosecuted under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 for having illegal abortions, such as the case of Carla Foster, who was initially jailed for terminating her pregnancy at 32 to 34 weeks during lockdown.

In Northern Ireland: Abortion laws have been reformed, and the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020 now govern abortion access. However, there are still issues around access to abortion services, and the Supreme Court has been asked to determine whether certain provisions of the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) (Northern Ireland) Bill are within the legislative competence of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

In Policy and Practice: There is an ongoing debate and concern over the rise in police investigations into alleged illegal abortions, with campaigners warning that the number of investigations is on the rise.

Why Does It Matter?

This is about more than just laws; it’s about women having control over their own bodies. Some politicians don’t think women should have this right.

But many people are fighting to make abortion access a human right and to stop the government from making it even harder to get an abortion.

Recent Developments

The Abortion Act 1967 legalised abortion under certain conditions, but the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, a Victorian law, still criminalises it. Recent cases in 2022 highlighted the ongoing legal risks for individuals seeking abortions outside the legal framework.

In 2022 two women faced potential imprisonment in Britain for having an abortion because of that 1861 law?

British government quietly removed commitments to abortion and sexual health rights from an international pact on freedom of belief and gender equality in 2022.

References to repealing discriminatory laws that threaten women’s “sexual and reproductive health and rights” and “bodily autonomy” have recently been removed from a statement published on the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) website.

A cross-party group of MPs is pushing to decriminalise abortion up to 24 weeks and safeguard access against potential rollbacks, similar to those seen in the US.

BMarvellous Team Thinks…

Abortion is a part of life. Abortion law in the UK affects women and people with wombs, with one in three expected to have an abortion in their lifetime. Most people support the right to choose. But there’s a powerful group against it who are trying to change the rules so be aware and take action so abortion care is recognised as a human right and women are not criminalised for decisions about their bodies and lives.

To avoid unwanted pregnancy use contraception, understand your monthly cycle and when you ovulate and if you are not ready and prepared avoid sexual activity.

Where To Get More Information.

NHS – Abortion – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/abortion/

GP Referral: You can speak to your local GP and ask for a referral to a service like MSI Reproductive Choices UK.

Sexual Health Clinic: Contact a sexual health clinic for a referral to an abortion service provider.

Self-Referral: You can self-refer by contacting an abortion provider directly, such as the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), MSI Reproductive Choices UK, the National Unplanned Pregnancy Advisory Service (NUPAS), or your local NHS sexual health website.

Private Care: If you are not eligible for NHS-funded care or prefer private services, you can access private abortion care through providers like MSI Reproductive Choices UK.

Remember, most abortions in the UK are funded by the NHS, which means there will be no cost to you. If you’re under 18 or have difficulty paying for an abortion, support is available, and you can discuss your options with the provider.

We don’t judge so to offer a balanced story, abortion is not the only option, here is a link to BBC Bitesize on alternatives.

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