Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health
United Kingdom

Without consulting its members, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is supporting a campaign recently launched by BPAS to totally remove abortion from criminal law.

At present, there are 180,000 legal abortions a year in the UK. BPAS is now calling for ‘the Victorian-era legislation that criminalizes abortion to be scrapped’ (see RCM’s website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/news-views-and-analysis/news/campaign-launched-to-remove-abortion-from-criminal-law). That is, they are calling for abortions which are at present illegal to be made legal.

If this law is scrapped, it is not clear how people traffickers, violent partners, those who sell abortion pills online and anyone else who either coerces a woman into an illegal abortion or convinces her to take harmful illegally-produced drugs while she is in a vulnerable state can be prosecuted.

Section 59 of the 1861 Act which BPAS and RCM are campaigning to scrap provides that ‘Whosoever shall unlawfully supply or procure any poison or other noxious thing, or any instrument or thing whatsoever, knowing that the same is intended to be unlawfully used or employed with intent to procure the miscarriage of any woman, whether she be or be not with child, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour…’
In spite of the fact that abortion is easily available on the NHS, illegal (previously known as ‘back-street’) abortions still take place, but at least the 1861 Act acts as a deterrent to those considering providing them.

Scrapping the 1861 Act without putting a new act in its place will legalize abortion on demand for any reason up to birth and without any need for the mother to be seen by a doctor.

Women and their babies need more protection, not less.

We, the undersigned, call on the Department of Health to resist calls to scrap the 1861 Act.

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The Don't scrap Act protecting pregnant women and babies in the UK petition to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health was written by Fiona Cullen-Skowronski and is in the category Health at GoPetition.