‘I felt like a criminal’: Record number of women facing illegal abortion investigations

One woman says she's still struggling with the impact the police investigation had on her life, even though the case has now been dropped.

By Mollie Malone, news correspondent
Monday 17 June 2024

Sarah's front room is filled with pictures of her smiling baby. He's now 18 months old. But for almost a year, she was investigated on suspicion of illegally trying to abort him.

In January 2023, Sarah (not her real name) had just delivered her baby prematurely. She called 999 but before paramedics turned up, police came knocking at her door.

"The front room was just full of police," Sarah tells Sky News. "I felt like a criminal."

Continued: https://news.sky.com/story/i-felt-like-a-criminal-record-number-of-women-facing-illegal-abortion-investigations-13153079

On abortion culture wars, Britain takes a different path

As the U.S. grapples with abortion limits, British lawmakers propose scrapping all legal penalties.

APRIL 8, 2024

LONDON — England’s abortion laws could be headed for an overhaul. Brits probably won’t be taking to the streets.

As the United States continues to grapple with the divisive fallout of the 2022 Supreme Court ruling which overturned Roe v. Wade and so ended the federal right to abortion, British lawmakers are gearing up to have their own debate on the hot-button issue.

Continued: https://www.politico.eu/article/abortion-culture-wars-britain/

Children of a British woman suspected of illegal abortion removed from her care

Phoebe Davis
March 8, 2024

A British mother being investigated for a suspected illegal abortion under a Victorian-era law had her existing children removed from her care, Tortoise can reveal.

The mother is one of six women who have appeared in an English court since December 2022 for illegally ending their pregnancies under the Offence Against the Person Act (OAPA) 1861. Before then, only three women had faced convictions since the law was introduced.

Continued: https://www.tortoisemedia.com/2024/03/08/children-of-british-woman-suspected-of-illegal-abortion-removed-from-her-care/

As France makes abortion a constitutional right, UK women see sharp rise in abortion convictions

A law dating from 1861 is being used to prosecute women in England and Wales, in at least one case leading to incarceration.

March 4, 2024

France has become the only country in the world to protect the right to terminate a pregnancy in its constitution after abortion access was officially added to the freedoms guaranteed in the French constitution on Monday. The move was a direct reaction to the rollback of abortion rights in the United States and elsewhere.

But across the English Channel, women are still at risk of prosecution for having the procedure because abortion in the UK has not been decriminalised. Britain is facing a sharp rise in abortion convictions, with a law dating from 1861 being used to prosecute women and in at least one case leading to incarceration.  

Continued: https://www.france24.com/en/europe/20240304-france-abortion-constitution-right-uk-woman-sharp-rise-abortion-convictions-england

UK – Health chiefs voice fears over MP’s move to cut abortion limit

Exclusive: President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said they are against any reduction in abortion time limits

Maya Oppenheim, Women’s Correspondent
March 3, 2024

Fears have been raised that proposals to reduce the abortion deadline by two weeks could inflict cruelty on vulnerable women and actually increase the number of pregnancy terminations.

The warnings come after Tory MP Caroline Ansell proposed an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill to decrease the legal limit to have an abortion from the current deadline of 24 weeks to 22 weeks – with MPs set to vote on the proposals in due course.

Continued: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/abortion-laws-cut-limit-24-weeks-b2504825.html

MPs to get free vote on decriminalising abortion in England and Wales

Amendment by Labour MP Diana Johnson would end prosecutions for terminations after 24 weeks

Rowena Mason Whitehall
Fri 23 Feb 2024

MPs are expected to get a free vote on decriminalising abortion when a Labour backbencher lays an amendment that would end the prosecution of women who terminate pregnancies after the 24-week limit.

Diana Johnson is expected to lay an amendment to the Criminal Justice Act next month that would stop the possibility of women being jailed for going ahead with abortions after the time limit.

Continued: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/feb/23/mps-to-get-free-vote-on-decriminalising-abortion-in-england-and-wales

More women investigated for illegal terminations, says abortion provider

An unprecedented number of women are being investigated by police on suspicion of illegally ending a pregnancy, the BBC has been told.

Feb 20, 2024
By Eleanor Layhe, Anna Meisel and Divya Talwar

Abortion provider MSI says it knows of up to 60 criminal inquiries in England and Wales since 2018, compared with almost zero before.

Some investigations followed natural pregnancy loss, File on 4 found.

Pregnancy loss is investigated only if credible evidence suggests a crime, the National Police Chiefs' Council says.

Continued: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-68305991

Abortion investigations causing women ‘life-changing harm’, says UK expert

Women losing ‘everything’ after being accused of illegal abortion in England and Wales, even if not charged, says Dr Jonathan Lord

Emine Sinmaz, Guardian
Sat 27 Jan 2024

Women in England and Wales accused of having illegal abortions have been held in custody after pregnancy loss, had their children taken into care and been saddled with debt, an expert has said.

Dr Jonathan Lord, a co-chair of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) abortion taskforce, said he was aware of up to 30 “deeply traumatic” cases where women had been investigated by the police, with some suffering “life-changing harm”.  He said: “We’ve had patients lose everything – lose their home, lose their children, lose their relationship with their partner – purely as a consequence of the investigation.”

Continued: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/jan/27/abortion-investigations-causing-women-life-changing-harm-says-uk-expert

UK – Abortion prosecutions are never in the public interest, says royal college

New guidance to say health staff should not report women suspected of illegally ending pregnancies to police

Harriet Sherwood
Mon 22 Jan 2024

Doctors and other healthcare staff should not report suspected illegal abortions to the police as prosecutions are never in the public interest, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has said.

In an intervention on Monday that will trigger further debate on the decriminalisation of abortion, Dr Ranee Thakar, the president of the professional body, said “outdated and antiquated” abortion laws meant women were left vulnerable to criminal investigation.

Continued: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/jan/22/illegal-abortions-prosecutions-uk-police-royal-college

UK – Women still being harassed at abortion clinics despite buffer zone law

'Safe access zones’ entered law in England and Wales in May but Home Office has delayed implementing them

Denis Campbell
Wed 18 Oct 2023

Women using abortion clinics are still being harassed despite MPs voting a year ago to create buffer zones to stop protesters intimidating them, medical and abortion groups say.

Suella Braverman, the home secretary, has failed to “commence” the legislation to introduce buffer zones in England and Wales, even though parliament approved the move on 18 October last year.

Continued: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/oct/18/women-harassed-abortion-clinics-england-wales-buffer-zone-law