The change would be of immediate practical help to women there, writes Mary Pimm, as they currently run the risk of imprisonment if they take abortion pills obtained online
You say that repealing sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 “would be more symbolic than practical” since “it would not change abortion practice under the 1967 Abortion Act” (Report, 23 September). This is not true in Northern Ireland, where the 1967 Act does not apply. The change would be of immediate practical help to women there, who currently run the risk of imprisonment if they take abortion pills obtained online. It would also assist doctors and midwives who currently feel too scared to provide information about abortion clinics in England because they are unsure if giving even this very limited advice is illegal. We should commemorate the 50th anniversary of the empowerment of women by the 1967 Abortion Act as positively as we recently commemorated the empowerment of men by the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, and should take the opportunity to remove this antiquated law as sought by the Royal Colleges of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and of Midwives, and the BMA. We should also extend the 1967 Act to Northern Ireland so that women there can enjoy the same right to choose as in the rest of the UK, which is supported by the overwhelming majority of our country.
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