On Monday 13 March, Diana Johnson MP will propose the Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill in Parliament.
The Bill would decriminalise abortion in England and Wales.
Under Victorian criminal laws dating back to 1861 – before women had the right to vote – abortion remains illegal in England and Wales. A woman who has an abortion and anyone who helps her to have an abortion, unless it falls within the specific conditions of The Abortion Act 1967, currently face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment - the harshest such penalty in Europe.
Other countries, including Canada and some parts of Australia, have decriminalised abortion. In this country, the Royal College of Midwives and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service support abortion being decriminalised.
Diana Johnson MP said: “My Bill proposes to decriminalise abortion in England and Wales, in line with other countries.
"Decriminalisation will not mean deregulation. Abortion will still be subject to a significant body of Parliamentary regulation and robust professional standards. The Bill does not intend to make it easier to access abortion after 24 weeks.
“Removing the counter-productive threat of criminal punishment against vulnerable women will help create an environment more conducive to reducing incidents of unplanned pregnancies and abortions - not least medically unsafe ones.”