Received from: RCM
Congress believes that UK abortion law is out of date with medical science, human rights and social norms; and that it is time to bring abortion under the same regulatory frameworks that govern all other medical procedures in the UK and remove it from criminal law. We should trust women to make their own decisions. We applaud the recent decision in the Republic of Ireland to repeal the 8th amendment and decriminalise abortion. The overwhelming weight of health opinion is now behind decriminalisation as evidenced by the RCM, RCOG and BMA etc. positions.
Under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act abortion is a criminal offence and carries a sentence of life imprisonment. It is still in force today. The 1967 Abortion Act does not repeal the 1861 Act, it details a specific set of circumstances under which a woman or her doctors will not be prosecuted. It gives a limited defence against the 1861 Act. The 1967 Act is not in force in Northern Ireland which means there is no defence and all abortion is illegal.
Abortion is a workplace issue, a women’s rights issue and a medical issue, not a criminal action.
Congress supports the statutory right to conscientious objection, making clear that healthcare workers have the right to refuse to participate in an abortion procedure in a ‘hands on capacity’.
Congress calls on the General Council to support the We Trust Women Campaign to decriminalise abortion across the UK.
Royal College of Midwives