News Article02/10/2008

Human Fertilisation and Embroyology Bill reaches report stage

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill will reach Report stage next week – the final step before making it onto the statute books. You will remember the bitter battle in May of this year which saw anti-choice amendments to reduce the time limit for abortion significantly defeated. With a large pro-choice majority in Westminster, now is the chance to truly improve the law for women.

On 22nd October, we anticipate MPs will vote on modernising amendments. Please write to your MP TODAY and ensure he / she supports the amendments (New Clauses) listed below.

To find out who your MP is, please click here: then copy and paste the text below into the body of the e-mail.

Thank you for supporting women’s abortion rights.


When the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill reaches Report Stage on 22nd October you will have the opportunity to improve women’s reproductive healthcare in Britain for decades to come.
MPs from the three main parties have tabled amendments to modernise the 1967 Abortion Act in England, Wales and Scotland, in line with government sexual health policies, which aim to provide medical care closer to home, with greater patient choice and extend the Act to Northern Ireland.

Please support the following amendments:

New Clause 1 & 13: Removing the legal requirement for two doctors’ signatures to authorise abortions which can delay and is clinically redundant.

New Clause 2 & 14: Allowing suitably trained nurses and other health care practitioners to carry out abortions.

New Clause 7 & 10: Extending the locations where abortions can take place to primary care level.
New Clause 9: Allowing women the choice to be at home to complete early medical abortion. (see details below) .

New Clause 11: Ensuring that anti-abortion organisations are transparent about their position when offering pregnancy “counselling”.

New Clause 12: Clarify the limit of conscientious objection in respect of contraception provision.

New Clause 30: Extending the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.

One of the above amendments, New Clause 9, will give women the choice of completing the second stage of an Early Medical Abortion (EMA) at home, in comfort and privacy, with continued medical advice and support, as women routinely do in the USA and many European countries.
EMA is a non-invasive, non-surgical early abortion, taking place from up to 9 weeks (28–63 days) of pregnancy using a two-drug regimen. This method of abortion, is favoured by many women in the UK and has increased national capacity for the provision of early abortion.

However, the law as currently interpreted by the Department of Health in this area, works against the best interests of women by requiring both medications to be administered within a hospital or clinic approved by the Secretary of State, requiring two separate visits for medication. Having to return for the second medication is clinically unnecessarily burdensome for women and costly for NHS to provide.

Charities including Marie Stopes International (MSI) and BPAS, the UK’s leading abortion providers, speak with thousands of women every year who, if given the choice, would prefer to take the second medication at home, rather than having to return to the clinic.

MSI conducted an acceptability study of clients who had opted for EMA and found that a staggering 91% said they were confident taking the second pill at home and would welcome having a choice.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee recently took evidence on this subject and agreed that ‘with appropriate follow-up procedure in place there is no evidence relating to safety, effectiveness and patient acceptability that should serve to deter Parliament ……. from amending the 1967 Act …. to allow the second dose of medication to be taken at home’1.

support these amendments.

1. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. Scientific Developments Relating to the Abortion Act 1967, 12th Report of Session 2006-07. Vol.1. HC1045-I. November 2007.


MSI e-postcard

MSI acceptability study


Related categories: Abortion Advocacy & campaigning
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