Monday 21 June 2010

Myth-Busting Monday: Is abortion in the UK available "on demand"?

Every Monday EFC busts myths and take names, cutting through the misinformation, disinformation, and straight up nonsense to bring you the facts.

The term “abortion on demand” describes an abortion law that allows women to choose abortion without interference from legal or medical authorities, usually within a given time limit.  In the UK, most GPs will refer a woman who asks for an abortion (and those who don’t should make provision for the patient to access another doctor who will refer, in line with General Medical Council guidance).  Additionally family planning clinics can also refer for abortion, and in some areas, central booking lines are available for patients to book their own abortions.  Nevertheless, abortion is not technically available “on demand” in England, Scotland and Wales (abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland). Two doctors must still authorise the abortion and there is a specific list of criteria that women must meet to access an abortion. The 1967 Abortion Act gives doctors the right to perform abortions legally under certain conditions. It does not provide women with the right to demand an abortion under any circumstances.  While it is true that any woman who wants an abortion within the legal time limit should be able to access one according to general medical guidance, UK law does not actually allow for abortion "on demand".

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