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Abortion Laws in the UK

Abortion Laws in the UK

Why we need reform - Whose Choice?

It is a popular misconception that the current law allows for abortion at the request of the women concerned. In fact, abortion is legal only if two doctors certify that it is necessary under the terms of the 1967 Act; unwanted pregnancy is not one of these terms.

Some doctors accept that an unwanted pregnancy is potentially harmful and will support her request for this reason

They are legally permitted to do this

Other doctors may be judgemental, obstructive and unhelpful, delaying women or turning them away in circumstances where another doctor would consider an abortion to be warranted

They are legally permitted to do this

By allowing doctors to exercise wide discretion and make personal judgements over women, the 1967 Abortion Act creates a climate of uncertainty and potential for unfair and arbitary discrimination. It places and additional, unjust emotioanl burden on women who may already be facing one of the most difficult and traumatic decisions of their lives

The law must be amended to recognise that the only person capable of deciding whether or not a pregnancy should continue is the person most affected by that decision - the woman herself

Why we need reform - Barriers to access

Recent studies in the United Kingdom have demonstrated the wide disparity in the provision of NHS abortion services in various parts of the country; the level of NHS provision ranges from more than 90% of local demand to less than 60% in some health authority areas. And, of course, in Northern Ireland, where the 1967 Abortion Act does not apply, both NHS and private sector provision is non-existent.

Some health authorities do not consider abortion services to be particularly important and accord them low priority for funding, which means they fail to meet the needs of local women. A woman with an unwanted pregnancy cannot expect to be referred for an NHS abortion in the way that a woman with a wanted pregnancy can expect NHS ante-natal and maternity care.

Lack of provision may have grave implications for women's health, since inadequate local NHS funding tends to result in long waiting lists, or arbitary restrictions, such as refusing women who have previously had NHS abortions or are beyond a certain number of weeks of pregnancy. Women in low income groups are particularly vulnerable, as they cannot resort to the private sector in the event that local NHS providers...

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Category:   Abortion

Length:   3 pages (755 words)

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