Thank you to all of those who have contacted me about abortion law in the UK.

I appreciate that abortion is an extremely sensitive issue on which people hold very strong opinions and I believe it is important that we are all able to voice our views in a respectful way.  I support the right to choose, and believe that access to a safe, legal abortion should be available throughout the United Kingdom. I recognise that there needs to be a legal framework, with time limits in place to prevent late-term abortion. However, I do not believe any public interest is served by prosecuting vulnerable women in cases such as the recent one you cite. That is why I support a revision of sentencing guidelines and for the Director of Public Prosecutions to look again at the guidance used by prosecutors in such cases.

At present, the Abortion Act 1967 permits abortions to be carried out in England and Wales, under certain circumstances, up to 24-weeks of pregnancy. Otherwise, under a Victorian piece of legislation, the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (OAPA), 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 note that UK Government Ministers have said that they have no plans to bring forward any legislation to modernise abortion laws in England and Wales, despite abortion being decriminalised in Northern Ireland since 2019. In Scotland, since 2016, responsibility for abortion law has rested with the Scottish Parliament. Due to the fact that the Government controls the legislative timetable this means that the law can only be changed via a Private Members’ Bill, few of which become law, or via a suitable amendment to a Government Bill.

On 15 June 2023, a Minister confirmed that were the House of Commons to vote to change the law in England and Wales, the Government would work to implement the will of MPs. I hope that the Government will therefore reconsider the Opposition frontbench’s invitation to work together to look at options to modernise the law to prevent vulnerable women being prosecuted when it is not in the public interest to do so.

Thank you again to all of those who have contacted me about this important issue.

Picture of abortion protesters.
Picture of abortion protesters.
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