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RCN launches membership survey on decriminalising termination of pregnancy

The college's UK-wide survey of its members will help to inform its position on the the principle of removing criminal sanctions from termination of pregnancy

The RCN is launching a UK-wide survey of its members to gather their thoughts on the principle of removing criminal sanctions from termination of pregnancy.


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Termination of pregnancy is legal in England, Scotland and Wales, within certain criteria that must be agreed by two doctors. Without this, termination is a criminal offence which could carry a prison sentence.

In Northern Ireland, termination of pregnancy is illegal except in very limited cases.

Finding a position

There is growing debate about removing criminal sanctions from termination of pregnancy, but the RCN does not have a position on decriminalisation yet. The college wants to develop a position so that it can contribute to the debate.

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: 'Decriminalisation is an important issue for today’s society to consider and one the college is committed to having a position on.

'As the largest nursing organisation in the United Kingdom, we wish to understand the views of our members.

'I encourage all RCN members to complete the survey to help us inform our position.'

Wider issues

The survey will not consult on wider issues around termination of pregnancy, including arguments for or against the procedure.

The RCN is also not calling for any change to gestational limits or changes to the right to conscientious objection by healthcare professionals. 

There are different ways in which termination of pregnancy could be decriminalised, but the survey will only focus on the principle of whether or not it should be removed from criminal law.

The online survey, which will run from Friday 16 February to Sunday 18 March, will inform the RCN’s position on decriminalisation.

Respond to the survey on termination of pregnancy


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