5 September 2016
* British Pregnancy Advisory Service: We are delighted to see the Green Party leading the way and reaffirming their support for a woman’s right to choose by voting to decriminalise abortion
Green Party members have reaffirmed their support for abortion rights by voting to decriminalise abortion.
At Autumn Conference, members voted overwhelmingly in support of a motion proposed by Sarah Cope, the party’s Women’s Spokesperson.
The motion stated:
‘The Green party believes that no woman should face imprisonment for ending a pregnancy. A Green government would ensure that abortion be removed from the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act and instead governed by the same robust regulatory and ethical frameworks as all other medical procedures. As abortion is a devolved issue in Scotland and Northern Ireland, it is intended that this policy would apply to England and Wales.'
Cope told conference:
"The Green Party already has an excellent and progressive abortion policy. For example, a Green government would remove the requirement to obtain two doctors’ signatures in order to be allowed an abortion.
"However, what we do not address in our current policy is that the 1967 Abortion Act, which did not extend to Northern Ireland, did not get rid of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act or decriminalise abortion, but instead carved out therapeutic exemptions to the OAPA (and equivalent common law in Scotland) and allowed abortion where women and doctors met certain requirements.
"This piece of Victorian legislation is still in force today. In line with the punitive values of mid-Victorian Britain, it calls for one of the harshest penalties for unlawful abortion imposed by any country in Europe.
"No other medical procedure in the country is governed by legislation this old, or this out-of-step with clinical developments and the moral thinking of the modern world.
“Incredibly, women still get prosecuted and imprisoned due to this out of date legislation. Furthermore, the threat of prosecution that is unique to abortion deters many doctors from wanting to enter this fundamental area of women’s healthcare.”
Katherine O’Brien, Media and Public Policy Manager at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) said:
“One in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime, and the majority of the public support a woman’s right to choose, yet we have one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. Our legal framework has not caught up with the medical and societal developments since our Abortion Act was passed in 1967, and it is appalling that women still risk up to life imprisonment for ending a pregnancy.
“For far too long those opposed to abortion have been allowed to dominate the debate. We are delighted to see the Green Party leading the way and reaffirming their support for a woman’s right to choose by voting to decriminalise abortion.”