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Abortion should not be a criminal matter, say RCN members

Abortion survey – majority of respondents want procedure removed from the criminal law 
Abortion poll

Abortion survey majority of respondents want procedure removed from the criminal law

RCN members want to end the threat of legal action in abortion, a college survey suggests.

Almost 3,000 members responded to the UK-wide survey, with 73.7% voting in favour of removing criminal sanctions from abortion legislation.

The survey ran from February to March and did not cover any of the wider ethical issues relating to abortion, such as arguments for or against the procedure, changes to gestational limits or the right to conscientious objection by healthcare professionals.

The overall response came from 1% of the RCNs 435,000 total membership.

Medical criteria

Abortion is legal in England, Scotland and Wales within certain criteria that must be agreed by two doctors. Without this, abortion is a criminal offence that could carry a prison sentence. In Northern

Abortion survey – majority of respondents want procedure removed from the criminal law  


Picture: iStock

RCN members want to end the threat of legal action in abortion, a college survey suggests.

Almost 3,000 members responded to the UK-wide survey, with 73.7% voting in favour of removing criminal sanctions from abortion legislation.

The survey ran from February to March and did not cover any of the wider ethical issues relating to abortion, such as arguments for or against the procedure, changes to gestational limits or the right to conscientious objection by healthcare professionals.  

The overall response came from 1% of the RCN’s 435,000 total membership.

Medical criteria 

Abortion is legal in England, Scotland and Wales within certain criteria that must be agreed by two doctors. Without this, abortion is a criminal offence that could carry a prison sentence. In Northern Ireland, abortion is illegal except in limited cases.

The issue of the RCN’s position on the removal of criminal sanctions was raised at it 2016 congress. The RCN professional forums associated with women’s health asked the college to be part of the debate.

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: ‘As the largest nursing organisation in the UK, we have sought to understand the views of all our members on decriminalisation. We will use the views of all our members to inform the RCN’s future work on this issue.’

The RCN indicated it would now explore the regulation and quality monitoring processes that must be in place to support best practice, and protect the rights of women to free and safe services. This will be informed by RCN members’ views.


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