Background

Briefings on domestic abuse and abortion law reform

How will the amendment ensure victims of domestic abuse can access abortion care?

  • Women in the UK still face life in prison for an abortion at any gestation without the permission of 2 doctors, one of the harshest punishments in the world.
  • The law disproportionately affects women and girls in abusive relationships who use illicit medication purchased online because they are unable to access in-clinic support without their partner knowing.
  • Temporary COVID-19 measures have enabled women to access abortion medication lawfully at home. However, these measures are set to expire, and anti-abortion campaigners have been granted a judicial review of the Health Secretary’s decision. We are concerned that vulnerable women will once again be forced to seek pills online, illegally.
  • This amendment would decriminalise abortion, ensuring that vulnerable women who cannot attend a clinic can continue to access abortion medication by post. Women who use abortion medication online would no longer risk criminalisation.

How will the amendment protect pregnant women in abusive relationships?

  • The existing law criminalises all forms of intentional abortion – but does not provide for situations where a violent partner causes a miscarriage as part of another crime.
  • The current law requires that there is an intention to end a pregnancy in order for a charge to be laid for ending a pregnancy.
  • This amendment would strengthen the law to enable the prosecution of partners or family members who cause a woman to lose a pregnancy due to violent attacks – committed through recklessness, or with the intention of ending the pregnancy.

For more information, read our briefings below: