Decriminalisation of Abortion

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:00 pm on 23rd July 2019.

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Photo of Jackie Doyle-Price Jackie Doyle-Price The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 1:00 pm, 23rd July 2019

I know I will disappoint the hon. Lady, and I know she has been a passionate campaigner on these issues for many years, with the welfare of women at her heart. I answer this question with great respect for her desire, but it remains the case that the Government are not minded to repeal the provisions of the 1861 Act in England and Wales, recognising that we have an Abortion Act that provides for access to abortion services.

From the perspective of the safety of women accessing abortion services, the issues raised by the hon. Lady do concern me. It is not good for the welfare of women that pills are being accessed online. I also observe that the Abortion Act is more than 50 years old and was the product of a very different time. Abortions were then entirely surgical, and the medical abortions to which we now have access are clearly far safer.

This is very much a personal view, and I am not speaking for the Government in advancing this view, but I think that making provision for early abortion and for recognising medical abortion in law will get us much further. We need to make sure we have a safe regime that enables women to access abortion services as safely as possible.