I‘m reeling from the repeal of Roe Vs Wade in the US, but also not at all suprised. It’s another attack on people with uteruses
The thing is though, I’m also not naive enough to think this couldn’t also happen in the UK – the current government is after all trying to repeal the Human Rights Act.
I’ve written an email to my MP, following guidance on what to say that Stella Creasy wrote in a Vogue article which came out a couple of days ago. By all means use it as a template to contact your MPs too.
As a woman with two daughters, watching what has happened in the US on Friday is terrifying. I’m also not naive enough to think that overturning rights to basic reproductive healthcare can’t happen here in the UK as well.
Currently, abortion access in the majority of the UK is still rooted in criminal legislation. The 1967 act allows abortion with the permission of 2 doctors and under the following circumstances:
- risk to the life of the pregnant woman;
- preventing grave permanent injury to her physical or mental health;
- risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family (up to a term limit of 24 weeks of gestation); or
- substantial risk that, if the child were born, he or she would “suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped”.
According to Wikipedia, the third ground is typically interpreted liberally with regards to mental health to create a de facto state of abortion on demand, and nearly all abortions—98% in 2019 and 2020—are performed to protect the woman’s mental health. However, given the direction of travel and anti-abortion groups in the UK receiving funding from the US, this feels like shaky ground to say the least. If a someone has an abortion without the permission of 2 doctors, they can be tried under the 1861 Offences Against The Person Act, which can lead to life imprisonment. Yes, there has been some progress with the allowance of telemedical abortion care in the Health and Care Act 2022, but the Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Act, aiming to repeal criminalised aspects of existing abortion law in England and Wales fell in 2017 and no further action has been taken. Furthermore, as this article demonstrates, given the state of the NHS due to the Tories 14 years of devastating attacks and cuts, accessing abortion care is far from straight forward.
As you may be aware, banning abortion does not result in few abortions. It just results in fewer safe abortions.
Notably, rates have diverged between countries with fewer restrictions and those with more: Between 1990–94 and 2015–19, the average abortion rate in countries with generally legal abortion (excluding China and India) declined by 43 percent. By contrast, in countries with severe restrictions on abortion, the average abortion rate increased by around 12 percent. (Source)What abortion bans do categorically result in are: An increase in maternal mortality, both from desperate women – and let’s not forget, children – who will seek unsafe abortions when there are no legal abortions available, and women who develop complications in their pregnancy but cannot access the healthcare they need because anti-abortion laws mean doctors won’t treat them. (Quoted from Caroline Criado Perez’s Invisible Women newsletter)
As my MP, I’m asking for your wholesale support for the rights to reproductive healthcare – the right to choose whether to not to continue with a pregnancy – to be enshrined in our constitution and thus beyond the reach of politicians and conservative campaigners who would diminish those rights. As you’ll know, your colleagues Stella Creasy and Jess Philips are vocal on this issue and I also ask that you support their work in this area.
Many thanks in advance