The 1967 Abortion act is more than 40 years old and nowadays it is supposed to be amended through the new Human Tissue and Embryos Bill. The first draft of this is already a couple of years old. All those who are involved in abortion care and the pro-choice movement may see this as a welcome opportunity to examine all the legal principles which surround abortions in the UK once again. This is supposed to be the law which serves the best interests of women. The Parliamentary debate deals with attempts to make the laws on abortion even more restrictive. Further limits to the 1967 Abortion Act will be made. The public, the media and the Parliament still have certain arguments which are against abortion.
The law as it stands
The Abortion Act 1967 is a law that permits the termination of pregnancy up to 24 weeks’ gestation under certain circumstances. These circumstances are based on the opinions of two different doctors. If the doctors claim that there is a significant risk of the child being born with serious mental or physical abnormalities, or if the continued pregnancy may risk the life of the pregnant woman, or if the termination is simply necessary in order to prevent various different types of permanent injury to the mental or physical of the pregnant woman. The termination of pregnancy is also permitted if the continuance of the pregnancy involves any risks which are greater than if the pregnancy is terminated. According to this law, the act of abortion needs to take place on NHS or other sorts of approved premises. If a woman wants to terminate her pregnancy, she needs to find two doctors who may confirm that the woman and the conditions of her pregnancy meet the criteria which are described above. There are certain attempts to bring an even more restrictive law which is supposed to reduce the 24 week time limit, end the confidentially for the patients who are under 16 years of age and incorporate obligatory counseling concerning the mental health risks which may be associated with the act of abortion. The attempts which are made to reduce the time limit are actually not that extreme. People simply want to reduce the time from 24 to only 21 weeks. The doctors are also supposed to stop offering abortion and contraception advices to girls who under 16 years old. The attempts to introduce compulsory abortion counseling need no explanation because it is a well known fact that abortion may indeed have a negative effect on the overall mental health.