This means that individual states can now ban the procedure, and half of the US states are likely to introduce bans or restrictions.
Thirteen US states have already passed “trigger laws” to automatically ban abortions after the verdict.
Planned Parenthood research estimates that about 36 million women will be deprived of their right to an abortion.
Before the verdict, abortion restrictions had already been imposed in Texas. As of September 2021, Senate Bill 8 bans abortions in the state after about six weeks of pregnancy.
In England, Scotland and Wales, the Abortion Act 1967 allows women to have an abortion up to a gestational age of 23 weeks and six days. They are sometimes carried out after 24 weeks under special circumstances, for example if the mother’s life is in danger or the child would be born with a severe disability.
By law, services must ask women why they want an abortion, and two doctors must verify that abortion law requirements are met.
Abortion can be permitted for one of four reasons – if there is a danger to the life of the pregnant woman or if the abortion will prevent serious permanent damage to a woman’s physical or mental health.
An abortion can also be done when there is a risk to the physical and mental health of the woman or any children in her family, or there is a significant risk that the child would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities at birth or be severely disabled.
The 1967 Act did not extend to Northern Ireland and abortion was not decriminalized in the region as of 2019. Despite this, abortion services are still limited here.
In March, British MP Brandon Lewis, Foreign Secretary for Northern Ireland, announced he was putting together a small team of staff to work with Northern Ireland’s Department of Health to create quality abortion care. Lewis wrote in a ministerial statement that it was “unacceptable” that services had not already been put in place.
Women have a legal right to an abortion United Kingdom and the reasons for abortion are broad, rights groups say it’s still a “bureaucratic, patriarchal procedure” that requires the approval of two doctors.
Furthermore, under the Crimes Against the Person Act 1861, abortion still remains a criminal offense when a woman terminates her own pregnancy without the consent of two doctors.
Barriers to accessing abortion services also remain. Activists have warned that waiting times for treatment in the UK are still too long, and some women report having to travel hours outside of their homes to get treatment.
In its latest guidance on abortion, the World Health Organization states that all “medically unnecessary political obstacles to safe abortion” should be removed.
These include the risk of criminalization and the need for approval from other people or institutions.
It also recommends lifting the limits on when abortion can take place during pregnancy. “Such barriers can cause critical delays in accessing treatment, putting women and girls at greater risk,” it said.
Here are some steps you can take to support groups dedicated to protection and improvement abortion rights In the United Kingdom.
know your rights
MSI Reproductive Choices UK, a leading abortion provider, says people should take the time to educate themselves about their abortion-related rights.
Whilst many are aware that abortion is a statutory right in the UK, they may not be aware of the specific reasons or that dual doctor approval is required by law.
“People know that abortion is possible and acceptable, but they may not know how it happens,” says Sarah Shaw, director of advocacy. “When people know their rights, it’s harder to take them away.”
In addition, the fact that abortion is still criminalized means the public must be “constantly vigilant” when it comes to protecting their rights, experts at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) have said.
“The Abortion Act 1967 provides legal protections against criminalization if a woman meets the conditions of the law but if, for example, a woman buys abortion medicine online to terminate a pregnancy at 6 weeks because she does not have access to NHS-funded services , she could be prosecuted,” said a spokesman for the BPAS.
“Parliament could always try to restrict women’s access. In recent years, a number of anti-choice MPs have attempted to do just that and we must remain vigilant at all times.”
Sign the petitions and make noise
Mara Clarke, founder of the Abortion Support Network, says: “The most important thing people in the UK can do to support abortion rights in the UK is to be vocal and unabashedly pro-choice”.
“Pro-lifers make up less than 10 per cent of the UK population. We are the pro-choice majority, and we should often be talking not just about abortion, but about all reproductive health issues.
“Periods, the desire to have children, miscarriages, pregnancy, abortion, menopause – these are normal everyday issues for all of us.
According to the latest figures, 210,860 abortions were reported in England and Wales in 2020.
The BPAS has started a petition Calling on Secretary of State Liz Truss to ask the UK government to publicly condemn the draft US Supreme Court Opinion. BPAS to reverse 1973 verdict”[is] clearly a violation of human rights and an attack on women, their families and their lives.”
A recent survey of 5,098 UK adults, on behalf of MSIfound that nine out of ten people believe women should have access to abortion services.
MSI encourages the public to speak openly about abortion in order to normalize it as a reproductive right and remove any stigma associated with it.
It has invited women to share their experiences, reminding people that this is “a very safe, very common medical procedure”.
The BPAS and MSI are also calling on the government to introduce national buffer zone laws outside of all abortion clinics.
This would protect people attending abortion clinics from harassment from pro-life groups.
“We hear heartbreaking stories from patients who are truly traumatized by the experience of going through screaming, embarrassing crowds to access perfectly legal medical care,” MSI said.
More access is required
Better access to abortion services in NHS hospitals is essential for women with complex medical needs, BPAS says.
Women with epilepsy, diabetes, heart disease, or cancer cannot be treated in a stand-alone community clinic as they explore rapid access to alternative care and specific clinical expertise in an emergency.
“Every week women in the UK are denied access to abortion treatment because we cannot find appointments in NHS hospitals. These are women for whom continuing pregnancy poses a significant risk to their health,” BPAS said.
Clarke says abortion should be part of the cycle of reproductive healthcare and offered more consistently across the UK.
“We’ve heard from women living in parts of England without a second trimester abortion provider who are struggling to travel long distances to clinics or find childcare during their trip,” Clarke said.
“While more than 90 percent of abortions occur in the first 12 weeks, we must protect the 24-week period.
“Britain has the highest deadline for on-demand abortions in Europe and although very few abortions are performed at 20 weeks or even 12 weeks, the people who need later abortions really, really need them. We must not lose that.”