The 1967 Abortion act is more than 40 years old and nowadaysit is supposed to be amended through the new Human Tissue and Embryos Bill. Thefirst draft of this is already a couple of years old. All those who areinvolved in abortion care and the pro-choice movement may see this as a welcomeopportunity to examine all the legal principles which surround abortions in theUK once again. This is supposed to be the law which serves the best interestsof women. The Parliamentary debate deals with attempts to make the laws onabortion even more restrictive. Further limits to the 1967 Abortion Act will bemade. The public, the media and the Parliament still have certain argumentswhich are against abortion.
The law as it stands
The Abortion Act 1967 is a law that permits the terminationof pregnancy up to 24 weeks’ gestation under certain circumstances. Thesecircumstances are based on the opinions of two different doctors. If thedoctors claim that there is a significant risk of the child being born withserious mental or physical abnormalities, or if the continued pregnancy mayrisk the life of the pregnant woman, or if the termination is simply necessaryin order to prevent various different types of permanent injury to the mentalor physical of the pregnant woman. The termination of pregnancy is alsopermitted if the continuance of the pregnancy involves any risks which aregreater than if the pregnancy is terminated. According to this law, the act ofabortion needs to take place on NHS or other sorts of approved premises. If awoman wants to terminate her pregnancy, she needs to find two doctors who mayconfirm that the woman and the conditions of her pregnancy meet the criteriawhich are described above. There are certain attempts to bring an even morerestrictive law which is supposed to reduce the 24 week time limit, end the confidentiallyfor the patients who are under 16 years of age and incorporate obligatory counselingconcerning the mental health risks which may be associated with the act ofabortion. The attempts which are made to reduce the time limit are actually notthat extreme. People simply want to reduce the time from 24 to only 21 weeks.The doctors are also supposed to stop offering abortion and contraceptionadvices to girls who under 16 years old. The attempts to introduce compulsoryabortion counseling need no explanation because it is a well known fact thatabortion may indeed have a negative effect on the overall mental health.