subscribe: Posts | Comments

Abortion rights progress

0 comments

RCOG, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, vote, decriminalise abortion, medical matter, not criminal law, Abortion ‘should be treated as a medical, rather than a criminal issue’.

In a major important step for women’s rights, the Council of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has voted strongly in favour of supporting the removal of criminal sanctions associated with abortion in the UK.

Last week its ruling council agreed to change the college’s position from ‘neutrality on the issue’ to one that urges the repeal of sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861.

Those sections mean that a woman who has a termination without getting the legal approval of two doctors – by buying abortion pills online for example – could be arrested, be taken to court and risked being given a life sentence. As could anyone helping her.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond, wanted to establish a position on this matter as it represents the group of doctors who provide the majority of abortion services across the UK.

The College has announced that it will now adopt the following statement as its formal position:

‘The RCOG supports the removal of criminal sanctions associated with abortion in the UK.

‘We believe that the procedure should be subject to regulatory and professional standards, in line with other medical procedures, rather than criminal sanctions.

‘Abortion services should be regulated; however, abortion – for women, doctors and other healthcare professionals – should be treated as a medical, rather than a criminal issue.

‘The College is not calling for any change in gestational limits for abortion which should remain in place through the appropriate regulatory and legislative process.

‘We have come to this consensus following a discussion at the RCOG Council, where council members voiced a broad range of views during an informed and considered debate on the needs of the women and girls for whom we provide this very necessary service.’

The RCOG is the third key medical body to back the call to scrap those particular sections of the 1861 legislation.

The British Medical Association (BMA), the doctors’ union, threw its weight behind decriminalisation for the first time at its annual conference in June this year.

The Royal College of Midwives, which represents the UK’s 48,000 midwives, has supported the change since February 2016.

Professor Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “Having a formal position on decriminalisation will enable the College to usefully contribute to the debate surrounding what a post decriminalisation landscape might look like.

“I want to be clear that decriminalisation does not mean deregulation and abortion services should be subject to regulatory and professional standards, in line with other medical procedures.

“I strongly believe that the College has a responsibility to protect women’s health by ensuring access to this key healthcare service.

“In 2015 the RCOG Council identified the urgent need to ensure today’s abortion services are safe, readily available and sustainable.

“This led to the College establishing an Abortion Task Force to help to address issues in training, education and commissioning.

“The adoption of this position statement is another example of the RCOG standing up for the rights of women and girls on the issue of abortion.”

And Kate Brian, chair of the RCOG’s Women’s Network and a member of the RCOG Council, said: “The Network appreciates the range of views women hold on this matter, but believes this important step will help improve access to this essential area of women’s healthcare.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *