Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about decriminalising abortion and the Health and Care Bill.
I believe that all women in the UK should have the right to choose a safe, legal abortion. It is also my view that women across the UK should never have to face the possibility of prosecution for terminating a pregnancy.
Under the Abortion Act 1967 abortions can legally be carried out in England and Wales only under certain circumstances. Except for emergency cases or on specific medical grounds, all abortions require approval by two registered medical practitioners and must be performed in registered facilities. Otherwise, under an old piece of legislation, the Offences Against the Person Act (OAPA) 1861, it remains the case that it is illegal to provide an abortion and a woman ending her own pregnancy is liable to life imprisonment.
I support the repeal of these sections of the OAPA to decriminalise abortion in England and Wales, something that the UK Parliament has already done in respect of Northern Ireland as part of the legalisation of abortion there. I am aware that my colleagues Diana Johnson MP and Maria Miller MP sought to do this via New Clause 50, which they proposed by added to the Health and Care Bill during its Report Stage in the House of Commons in November 2021. I would have been happy to vote in favour of this New Clause. Unfortunately, it is rare for Backbench MPs’ New Clauses to be put to a vote at Report Stage, and that was again the case on this occasion. Nevertheless, it was a good opportunity to press the Government to act and I note that Maria Miller did so in her speech about the purpose behind New Clause. The Bill is now in the House of Lords where Peers will have the opportunity to seek to table their own amendments.
Thank you once again for contacting me and for sharing your views. I can assure you that I will continue to support efforts to decriminalise abortion in all parts of the UK.