Abortion rights: history offers a blueprint for how pro-choice campaigners might usefully respond

BMJ 2022; 378
doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.o1846
Published 26 July 2022
Agnes Arnold Forster, research fellow

In October 1971, the New York Times reported a decline in maternal death rate.1 Just 15 months earlier, the state had liberalised its abortion law. David Harris, New York’s deputy commissioner of health, speaking to the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association, attributed the decline—by more than half—to the replacement of criminal abortions with safe, legal ones. Previously, abortion had been the single leading cause of maternity related deaths, accounting for around a third. A doctor in the audience who said he was from a state “where the abortion law is still archaic,” thanked New York for its “remarkable job” and expressed his gratitude that there was a place he could send his patients and know they would receive “safe, excellent care.” Harris urged other states to follow the example set by New York and liberalise their abortion laws.

Continued: https://www.bmj.com/content/378/bmj.o1846


N. Ireland – Free, safe, legal, local

Emma Campbell describes the long fight for reproductive rights in Northern Ireland

March 24, 2021
Emma Campbell

Northern Ireland has finally emerged from the shadow of a British law that wreaked untold misery on the island of Ireland. On 22 October 2019, tired but buoyed, we celebrated that people were no longer at risk of being charged with a criminal offence for accessing an abortion. After a long struggle, the women of Northern Ireland now have the best abortion law in the UK and Ireland.

Sections 58 and 59 of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act criminalised doctors and abortion seekers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland with punishment up to ‘penal servitude for life’. This remained in place until the 1967 Abortion Act allowed abortion to carried out legally in certain circumstances, even if it wasn’t fully decriminalised.

Continued: https://www.redpepper.org.uk/alliance-for-change/


UK – Like Everything Else, Abortion Needs To Change After This

Like Everything Else, Abortion Needs To Change After This

Vicky Spratt
16 April 2020

Was the Health Secretary Matt Hancock gaslighting women in Britain when he allowed draft legislation permitting at-home abortions during the pandemic we’re currently living through to be published and unpublished? We will never know.

In the end, because of a cacophonous campaign from abortion experts at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and Marie Stopes, the government did a u-turn and confirmed that, for as long as this crisis rages on, women will be able to take abortion medication in the safety and comfort of their own home after a telephone consultation with a doctor (also known as telemedicine).

Continued: https://www.refinery29.com/en-gb/2020/04/9700087/abortion-law-change-during-coronavirus


Only 2 Political Parties Have Pledged To Decriminalise Abortion In England & Wales

Only 2 Political Parties Have Pledged To Decriminalise Abortion In England & Wales

By Lauren Sharkey
Nov 27, 2019

Manifestos have been released and election campaigns are well underway. But a closer look at each manifesto has revealed that only two major parties are promising to decriminalise abortion in England and Wales.

Although the 1967 Abortion Act permits abortions up to 24 weeks, the Victorian-era 1861 Offences Against The Person Act was never repealed. This means that abortions performed outside of the Abortion Act's parameters are technically punishable by a lengthy prison sentence. (Both the person having the abortion and the people assisting it are at risk of criminal prosecution.)

Continued: https://www.bustle.com/p/only-2-political-parties-have-pledged-to-decriminalise-abortion-in-england-wales-19407527


N. Ireland – How We Won the Right to Choose

How We Won the Right to Choose

By Maev McDaid and Brian Christopher
10.31.2019

Coming hot on the heels of Dublin’s repeal of anti-abortion laws, decriminalization in the North is a decisive victory for Irish feminists. The church and the state are losing their control over our bodies — but we still need to make abortion legal, safe, and free.

October 22 marked a decisive victory in the North of Ireland, as abortion was finally decriminalized. This news will surely have passed many people by — after all, in national as in international media, the North is almost only ever “represented” by the bigots in the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). But last week, this stridently anti-choice party was finally overruled by the Westminster parliament. Its move to decriminalize abortion in the North came fifty years after a similar step was taken on the British mainland. Yet this success especially owes to decades of heroic struggles waged by Irish feminists.

continued: https://jacobinmag.com/2019/10/northern-ireland-abortion-eighth-amendment


Campaign launched to abolish old law which means abortion is still technically illegal in England, Scotland and Wales

Campaign launched to abolish old law which means abortion is still technically illegal in England, Scotland and Wales

Bronwen Weatherby
Oct 26, 2019

A campaign has been launched to abolish an old law which means abortion is still technically illegal in England, Scotland and Wales.

In the wake of decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland earlier this week, campaigners say England, Scotland and Wales now have "the most draconian abortion laws in the union".

Continued: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/campaign-launched-to-abolish-old-law-which-means-abortion-is-still-technically-illegal-in-england-a4270946.html


Ireland: this is just the beginning

Ireland: this is just the beginning
Decriminalisation is long overdue. But will much change in practice?

Ella Whelan, Columnist
24th October 2019

Northern Ireland’s government in Stormont has been inactive for over 1,000 days. Sinn Fein and the DUP have been unable to bury the hatchet over a botched environmental policy and age-old rows over cultural practices. With the power-sharing agreement unable to function, the Northern Irish civil service has been left running the country, unable to make any key decisions. As a result, the UK parliament passed a law that instructed the two parties to return to Stormont to kiss and make up or face the prospect of Westminster taking over.

After an embarrassing performance in Stormont on Monday, in which a handful of politicians made a hamfisted show of trying to come back together, at midnight Westminsters’ threats became real and the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 came into force. Most significantly, the law also repealed sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, clearing the way for the decriminalisation of abortion.

Continued: https://www.spiked-online.com/2019/10/24/abortion-in-northern-ireland-this-is-just-the-beginning/


Abortion Still Isn’t Fully Decriminalised In England & Wales — This Campaign Wants To Change That

Abortion Still Isn't Fully Decriminalised In England & Wales — This Campaign Wants To Change That

By Lauren Sharkey
Oct 23, 2019

In a week where one part of the UK is celebrating the introduction of long-awaited-for reproductive rights, the rest are slowly realising they now live in the least progressive parts of the nation. Thanks to a Victorian-era law, abortion is still technically a criminal offence in England and Wales. But a campaign, led by Refinery29 and an 88-year-old campaigner, is aiming to decriminalise it once and for all.

Currently, England and Wales adhere to the 1967 Abortion Act. (Scotland did too until 2016 when powers were handed over to the Scottish Parliament, per the BBC.) This legislation allows abortions up to 24 weeks, but only if two doctors state that continuing with a pregnancy would involve a greater risk to a person's physical or mental health than terminating it.

Continued: https://www.bustle.com/p/abortion-still-isnt-fully-decriminalised-in-england-wales-this-campaign-wants-to-change-that-19261224


N. Ireland – Mum who bought abortion pills for daughter acquitted after landmark law reform

Mum who bought abortion pills for daughter acquitted after landmark law reform

Zoe Drewett
Wednesday 23 Oct 2019

A mother who has faced prosecution for six years for buying online abortion pills for her teenage daughter has been formally acquitted after landmark reform in Northern Ireland.

A judge directed a jury at Belfast Crown Court today to find the woman not guilty. The mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been facing two counts of procuring and supplying the abortion drugs with the intent to procure a miscarriage, contrary to the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act.

Continued: https://metro.co.uk/2019/10/23/mum-bought-abortion-pills-daughter-acquitted-landmark-law-reform-10968698/


Woman in Northern Ireland abortion pills case formally acquitted

Woman in Northern Ireland abortion pills case formally acquitted
Judge instructs jury to find woman not guilty after legal changes come into force

Rory Carroll, Ireland correspondent
Wed 23 Oct 2019

A court in Northern Ireland has acquitted a woman who was prosecuted for buying online abortion pills for her daughter, after the decriminalisation of abortion in the region.

The judge, David McFarland, directed a jury at Belfast crown court on Wednesday to find the woman not guilty a day after Northern Ireland’s Victorian-era abortion laws were liberalised. The prosecution offered no evidence.

Continued: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/oct/23/woman-northern-ireland-abortion-pills-case-formally-acquitted-legal-reforms