Talk:Abortion in the United Kingdom

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Structure of Article[edit]

Visiting the page expecting to be able to easily reference the state of the law in each part of the UK (and it would be helpful, as I've added, to include the Channel Islands) I found that the section on "England and Wales" gave details only about the 1861 Act which no longer applies in *any* part of the Common Travel Area, and that I could not readily find out the dates or names of the legislation that applied to Scotland, England, and Wales - nor was there any reference to the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, and the history of abortion in Northern Ireland was away down at the foot of the page. (If there is an article specifically on abortion in Jersey, Guernsey, and Man, then I apologise for putting this in the wrong place and suggest a link to the article from the top level section: but as I noted in this section, women from the islands habitually traveled to the mainland when they needed an abortion, this is a documented fact: therefore the legality of abortion on the islands is as closely linked to the legislation in the mainland UK as the legality of abortion in Northern Ireland.)

I've restructured the page so that the initial visitor can quickly find out (a) the state of the law in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Island and the Channel Islands, and (b) the dates of the relevant legislation.

I appreciate that many people are keen to know about opinion polls, attempts to amend legislation, history of punishments for abortion, etc. But the basic facts of the law and dates of the legislation passed are key, and should be readily available, uncluttered by the wealth of information further down the page. Yonmei (talk) 15:37, 7 June 2011 (UTC)

(1) As far as I can see, sections 58 and 59 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 are still in force in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. The 1999 edition of Archbold Criminal Pleading, Evidence and Practice, which I have in front of me right now, says, at paragraphs 19-149 to 19-165, that they are still in force. The Government's official database of legislation makes no suggestion that either section has been repealed: see here and here (the website in question is provided by the National Archives). If you think that they have been repealed so recently that the change has not yet appeared on the "" website you must provide the name of the Act of Parliament that you think did this.

The Abortion Act 1967 did not repeal sections 58 or 59. All it did was to provide that the word "unlawfully" in those sections was to be construed in accordance with its first section. If an abortion was performed that was not in accordance with section 1 of the Abortion Act 1967, the person who performed it would be liable to be prosecuted for an offence under section 58 provided that he had the mens rea for that offence.

(2) The Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 does not extend to Northern Ireland. The offence of child destruction is created for Northern Ireland by the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1945.

James500 (talk) 17:26, 7 June 2011 (UTC)

I consider this to be political pleading and NPOV. The fact is that abortion in mainland UK has been legal within specifically defined criteria since 1967. Your attempt to claim that it is unlawful is unhelpful to users. Your speculation that a 19th-century act could still apply in the UK does not rightly belong in a factual encyclopedia article at all. I will revert to my original edits. Yonmei (talk) 18:58, 7 June 2011 (UTC)
Yonmei, this is not political pleading. It is not POV. It is not speculation. It is a question of factual accuracy. Your claims that section 58 and 59 have been repealed are unsourced. The government's database, and my textbook, do not agree.
Also, I have not claimed that abortion is unlawful within the criteria of the 1967 Act. All I have done is to point out that, outside of those criteria, it is still offence (to which Archbold devotes a number of pages, making it notable). That is not the same thing.James500 (talk) 19:09, 7 June 2011 (UTC)
I apologise, then. Moving on to the issue of abortion in the mainland United Kingdom outside the criteria of the 1967 and 1990 Acts, the point of my changes was to restructure the article to make it clearer and easier to use as a reference.
As an illustration: There were 195,296 abortions in England and Wales in 2008 of which 95% took place at 20-or-less weeks gestation and 98% are recorded as taking place under Statutory Ground C of the 1967 Act: 2% on other grounds Department of Health PDF. In contrast, when attempting to show that the 1861 Act was still relevant, you provided one example of one prosecution under the 1929 Act in 2007, linking to a news story which acknowledged that this was a strikingly-rare event.
The structure of the article needs to give the basic and commonplace information first - abortion is lawful, here is the statutory legislation under which it is lawful. You may note, if you feel it important, in the historical section about the 1861 statute your citations to show that (except in the overwhelming majority of abortions taking place in the United Kingdom since 1967) subsections of 1861 legislation have not formally been repealed but are no longer in active use: abortion is lawful in the UK. I think it important that it's clear I am not disagreeing that you should not include whatever information and citations you have about the 1861 and 1929 Acts - just that the structure of the article needs to have the current law in all parts of the United Kingdom referenced first. Yonmei (talk) 22:52, 7 June 2011 (UTC)

In response to your observations here and on my talk page:

(1) The 1861 and 1929 Acts are not "historical" or "irrelevant" because they have not been repealed and people can still be prosecuted under them. (In England and Wales, unlike Scotland, an Act of Parliament does not cease to be law merely because it has fallen into desuetude).

Thank you for acknowledging that the 1861 Act has fallen into desuetude. It would be inappropriate, therefore, to make that Act the first part of the page. (The 1929 Act has not, because it is still the legislation that makes abortion unlawful in Northern Ireland.) Yonmei (talk) 08:05, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
Desuetude is irrelevant because it is not a defence. It does not make the Act "historical". It could be used at any moment.
In any event, I do not agree that sections 58 and 59 have fallen into desuetude. I have not seen sources that support the proposition that there has been "open, notorious and pervasive violation of the statute for a long period". I have not seen sources that suggest that large numbers of backstreet abortions and the like (what the 1861 now prohibits) are still taking place.James500 (talk) 00:38, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
The 1861 Act is still in force in Northern Ireland, as far as I am aware. It also includes acts that cannot be prosecuted as child destruction (because that offence has been held only to apply to late abortions due to the words "capable of being born alive").James500 (talk) 17:01, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
The Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 does not extend to Northern Ireland. See section 3(2). The offence of child destruction is created for Northern Ireland by the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1945.James500 (talk) 17:14, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
The BBC website that you have cited is not an appropriate source as it does not purport to be written by someone with legal credentials or with an audience of lawyers in mind. Section 25 of the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1945 does not mention the 1929 Act. The text of section 3(2) of the 1929 on does not acknowledge any amendment to that Act. What you have here is a journalist who does not understand what the "extent" of a statute means.James500 (talk) 17:40, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
The correct expression is that section 25 of the 1945 Act is "derived" (i.e. copied) from section 1 of the 1929 Act.James500 (talk) 17:48, 8 June 2011 (UTC) The expression "framed" on is also used. James500 (talk) 01:01, 9 June 2011 (UTC)
Also, on the website, when you click on "show geographical extent" under "advanced features" in the left hand panel, it says that the geographical extent of the 1929 Act is England and Wales. See here, for example, (look for the purple box with "E+W" written in it).James500 (talk) 00:09, 11 June 2011 (UTC) And if you move your cursor over that purple box, the words "Applies to England and Wales" come up on the screen.James500 (talk) 00:14, 11 June 2011 (UTC)

(2) The frequency with which prosecutions occur does not determine notability. That is determined by whether anyone is bothered to publish anything on the subject. I have already pointed to the leading textbook on English criminal law. I do not doubt that it will be included in many others.

The number of sources publishing material on the legislation that makes abortion lawful in the mainland United Kingdom, the 1967 and the 1990 Acts, is far greater than the number of sources publishing material on the 1861 Act, which has fallen into desuetude: the 1929 Act is still live legislation for Northern Ireland, and the cause of people traveling from Northern Ireland to the mainland to have abortions. If you wish to expand on the 1929 Act, further than is already expanded in its own wikipedia page, that would be appropriate. Yonmei (talk) 08:05, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
Can you prove that there is more literature on the 1967 Act than on the 1861 Act? It is not immediately obvious to me how this could be done.
If the order of the article were based on "popularity" or perceived "importance", instead of being organised by subject, it would become a psuedorandom collection of information (by which I mean that it would appear to be random to a casual observer). It would end up looking like "twenty facts" in The Sun. You might as well insist on putting it in alphabetical order.James500 (talk) 00:54, 9 June 2011 (UTC)

(3) The fact that prosecutions do not often take place for an offence does not mean that it is not important. It might mean that it has the public running scared. To put it another way, it might mean that the offence is working.

The point of the 1861 Act was to make all abortion a criminal offence. Since abortion is lawful and the right to have an abortion largely supported throughout the UK, and the right to travel to have an abortion supported by the ECHR, your argument for including the 1861 Act at the top of the page falls by this argument alone: plainly it cannot be argued to be an important Act any longer. Yonmei (talk) 08:05, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
Today, the purpose of the 1861 Act seems to be to prevent abortions that are not authorised by the 1967 Act. That would seem to include, for example, (1) dangerous backstreet abortions and (2) thugs beating seven bells out of pregnant women out of spite.James500 (talk) 17:01, 8 June 2011 (UTC)

(4) It is impossible to understand what the 1967 Act does without reference to the 1861 Act, because the 1967 Act is primarily a corrollory to the 1861 Act.

The 1967 Act makes abortion lawful in England, Scotland, and Wales, providing certain criteria are met. The Act itself has its own wikipedia page, which explains the function of the Act in more detail, and if you feel that page needs to be improved by citations from the 1861 Act, I would suggest you go edit that.
I agree that the progress of abortion law in the UK needs to be on the page: that is why there is a Historical section, where your detailed material on 1861 Act seems to belong.
I disagree that it's "impossible" to understand that the 1967 Act made abortion lawful without explaining in detail about the offenses in an Act in desuetude Yonmei (talk) 08:05, 8 June 2011 (UTC)

(5) The logical way to set out the article is to discuss all laws that are still in force in turn, in one section, including the 1861 Act. That is how Archbold Criminal Pleading, Evidence and Practice deals with the topic (it actually puts the 1861 Act first, but it, of course, is only concerned with England and Wales).

The logical way to set out an article of general reference for the public to find information is to give the basic information first, and expand on it in detail further down the page. Since the 1861 Act has fallen into desuetude, it is not information that an article of general reference needs to have at the top of the page. Yonmei (talk) 08:05, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
I agree that that there should be a summary at the top of the page. But what you have is not a summary.
For the sake of navigation it is necessary to put "like with like", e.g. all laws that are still in force in one section.James500 (talk) 17:01, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
For the sake of clarity, it is necessary to make clear first that abortion is lawful in the United Kingdom, and the legislation which makes abortion lawful. (talk) 12:04, 9 June 2011 (UTC)
For the sake of clarity, it is necessary to make clear first that abortion is lawful in Great Britain under certain circumstances, and unlawful otherwise, and the legislation which respectively makes abortion lawful and unlawful under the aforementioned circumstances. I think that to pick and choose between one and the other would be potentially misleading and incompatible with NPOV.
NB: I am not convinced that the wording of section 5(2) ("For the purposes of the law relating to abortion ... unlawfully done unless ...") makes abortion generally lawful for all purposes. But that is a separate issue.James500 (talk) 21:31, 9 June 2011 (UTC)

(6) I do not think that what you have written in the section on Great Britain is satisfactory because it is incomplete. It is not even a summary of what the 1967 Act does. It is a random fact. My provisional proposed revision of the section for England, Wales and Scotland is here. It is a substantial re-draft of what I originally wrote. Please let me know whether you find it acceptable.

Having had some experience with Wikipedia arguments, I wanted to establish that the structure of the article was accepted by other page editors before investing any further time in adding appropriate material. The section on the UK links to the Abortion Act 1967 and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 and the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929, each of which have their own pages on Wikipedia and which also link to the page on the Offences against the Person Act 1861. (I am surprised that you are not attempting to amend these pages.) The section on the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man links to the legislation itself where I could find it online (as no one has yet written wikipedia pages on this), and to other external sources referencing the changes making abortion lawful. Yonmei (talk) 08:05, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
I'll read your re-draft and comment on it, but I cannot guarantee to have time to do so properly in the next 24 hours. Will read and respond within 48 hours, if that's OK. Thanks Yonmei (talk) 08:01, 8 June 2011 (UTC)

(7) It might be desirable to completely decouple the information on the law relating to abortion from the rest of the article, perhaps by creating a new article at Abortion law in the United Kingdom or the like. I think that there is probably enough material to justify an article, if I was to add that material (there are quite a number of cases on sections 58 and 59 alone). This would probably be my preferred option.James500 (talk) 01:31, 8 June 2011 (UTC)

I don't see why that would be desirable. The Offences against the Person Act 1861 has its own wikipedia page, as do the 1929, 1967, and 1990 Acts. Why create what would effectively duplicate information available elsewhere? The article on Abortion in the United Kingdom should provide the basic and relevant information first: an 1861 Act fallen into desuetude is neither basic nor relevant.Yonmei (talk) 08:05, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
The volume of case law, and other accretions, on the 1861 Act is such that it is not going to be possible to discuss all its offences on that page, for reasons of length alone.James500 (talk) 17:17, 8 June 2011 (UTC)
Another alternative might be to create an article at Sections 58 and 59 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861, or such like, as there may be enough material to justify that.
The suggestion that the 1861 Act is not relevant is manifestly wrong, since it is still in force, and I am not even sure what you mean by "basic".James500 (talk) 23:44, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

What I am going to do now[edit]

I was told above that I would have a reponse on the proposed redraft in 48 hours. It has now been over three and a half days. I can't assume that I am going to get an answer, I can't wait forever, so I am going to go ahead. In any event, I think the arguments that have been offered above are manifest nonsense. The material obviously should go in the encyclopedia somewhere, this is as good a place as any, and it can always be moved later if it appears expedient to do so.James500 (talk) 01:43, 11 June 2011 (UTC)

=Channel Islands[edit]

(3) The Channel Islands are not part of the United Kingdom. They are what remains of the Duchy of Normandy. They are part of the British Islands. See the Interpretation Act 1978.James500 (talk) 18:47, 7 June 2011 (UTC)

If you feel it is appropriate to create a new Wikipedia article on Abortion in the Channel Islands, we can discuss this. But as I demonstrated in my link to Hansard, people from Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Man, have been coming to the mainland UK for legal abortions since the 1967 Act was passed. Yonmei (talk) 18:58, 7 June 2011 (UTC)


"2006 MORI poll A more recent survey shows support for restricting abortion laws in the UK, and is cited by the Catholic Church in England and Wales as evidence of a growing unease with abortion. [10]"

I've got a concern with the analysis presented by this sentence. It say that there is support for restricting abortion laws in the UK but I read the exact opposite.

"42% of British men and women believe the legal limit for an abortion should be cut (i.e abortion more restricted). 47% of British women believe the legal limit for an abortion should be cut 36% of British men believe the legal limit for an abortion should be cut 10% of British women believe that abortion should be "outlawed altogether" "

So a slim majority of men and women do NOT believe the abortion limit should be cut against the 47% who do. Compare these findings to the earlier poll:

"2005 YouGov/Daily Telegraph poll--Hauskalainen (talk) 05:50, 14 January 2010 (UTC) According to an August 2005 YouGov/Daily Telegraph survey, Britons' feelings toward abortion by gestational age are: [9]

30% would back a measure to reduce the legal limit for abortion to 20 weeks 25% support maintaining the current limit of 24 weeks 19% support a limit of 12 weeks 9% support a limit of fewer than 12 weeks 6% responded that abortion should never be allowed 2% said it should be permitted throughout pregnancy "

Adding up the restrictive groups, we come to a total of 66% in favour of some sort of restriction.

Contrary to "growing unease" there seems to be a relaxing of attitudes from 66% in favour of restriction in 2005 to 47% in 2006. All this tells me is that it depends how you ask the question...Anyway, I thought it was misleading to characterise the UK attitude as one of "growing unease" Tominatrix (talk) 19:15, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

I deleted the alleged 2006 poll and replaced it with a 2009 poll. The 2009 poll is published at the MORI web site. The 2006 poll is curiously not there ( (talk) 05:50, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

Northern Ireland[edit]

I did a few minor edits to this very infomative article. Would it be possible to clarify whether the Irish women travelling to GB for abortions are from Northern Ireland, the Republic or both? ~jimfbleak

There is circumstantial evidence to suggest that a large proportion of those 'Irish' women in Britain for abortions aren't Irish at all. Doctors in one Liverpool clinic in 1997 observed that less than 25% of those 'Irish' women actually had Irish accents; most had Liverpool accents, some Scottish, etc. There are still many British women who are unwilling to give a lot of personal details when checking into a hospital for a termination. They suspected that in saying 'I'm Irish' the women in question presumed that that would mean the hospital would decide that it would be tactful not to ask for any detailed info (home addresses, doctor contact numbers etc), on the basis that Irish women travelling for an abortion that was illegal in their own country would be unwilling to give the details and would be embarrassed to be asked. So the claims of Irishness by vast numbers of people seeking abortions are regarded by all but hardcore pro-abortion campaigners are deeply dodgy.

In addition, a travel survey in 1999 found that far less women of childbearing age travelled to specific locations in the UK than the supposed number of people showing up in those clinics for abortions and claiming Irishness. The survey on the demography of travel by age and gender suggested a serious discrepancy in the numbers. As many of these women were according to the survey not flying over with public airlines, and not travelling by boat from Dublin, Dun Laoghaire, Hollyhead or any port in Northern Ireland, the mystery was, how exactly were these 'Irish women' getting to the UK? Unless there is some secret unheard of secret boat or plane service, they were hiring private planes to fly them over or they are travelling to Europe and then to the UK, or they are swimming the Irish Sea, the numbers simply do not tally.

In one week in June 1999, a review of the number of women of 15-50 travelling to airports, sea ports and other locations within a fifty mile radius of a particular British city suggested that 144% of Irish women who travelled to that geographic area had abortions!!! Details of the exact numbers, or even a reasonable guess of the numbers of Irish women having British abortions, don't exist but put together, information from the hospitals, their data, the observations of staff and the result of the demographic survey of travel all suggest the speculated numbers are pie in the sky and privately off the record many leading abortion campaigners in Ireland admit that. FearÉIREANN 01:42 3 Jul 2003 (UTC)

I just had to point out that the above is complete and utter nonsense. From wiki "Estimates to the number of Irish women seeking abortions in Britain vary, in the 1990s it is alleged that between 1,500 and 10,000 women who stated in hospital records that they were 'Irish' travel annually. The official figure is 45,000 since 1967."

According to the UK Office of National Statistics, 20.4 million people visited Britain in 2006. I also found the following statistics- "Foreign visitors to the UK: American - 13%, French - 12%, German - 11%, Irish - 9.5%, Dutch - 6%". So, almost 2 million Irish people came to the UK in 2006. Admittedly some were probably in transit through UK airports, but I really don't believe that there were so few women of child-bearing age in Britain that 10,000 of them couldn't have been here for abortions. If only 10% of Irish visitors were women of child-bearing age, there would have been 200,000 of them in the UK last year. Maybe Ireland has some strange shortage of child-bearing women, or only men visited the UK. Seanjw 16:44, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

The article currently states "Approximately 80,000 women have travelled from Northern Ireland to England or other European countries to access a safe and legal abortion since the Abortion Act was enacted in 1967" Where is that figure from? No references at all are given. The above 4 year old comment from Seanjw does not provide any references either and saying "I really don't believe..." doesn't get anyone any nearer to an accurate figure. The same goes for: "anything up to 2000 pounds". As with every other article on Wikipedia, statistics need to be referenced to a reliable and neutral source. This one is no exception. Until then I am flagging this section. (talk) 21:04, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

I removed a reference to the sad case of Savita Halappanavar from the Northern Ireland section. While it's an important and newsworthy occasion, she died because doctors in the Republic felt bound by laws of the Republic - I don't see how someone dying in a neigbouring country has any relevance to Northern Ireland, where the law is completely different (with the 1929 and 1945 acts unequivocally legalising abortion in NI in cases like Halappanavar's. Johnb78 (talk) 11:43, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

Vera Drake[edit]

Would a link to the 2004 film, Vera Drake, about a back-street abortionist, be a helpful illustration of the situation in England before the '67 Act? === Vernon White (talk) 08:33, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

If you can find a reliable source to suggest that Vera Drake is an accurate portrayal of the situation in the U.K. before the Abortion Act 1967, then, yes. Otherwise I'd suggest adding it to a "Trivia", "Popular culture," or "Arts and literature" section. -Severa (!!!) 16:17, 20 February 2007 (UTC)
Don't really like "Trivia" sections added to heavy topics e.g Myra Hindley. Do you think there were any reliable contemporary social science studies of back-street abortionists. Maybe some of the actors have talked about the research they did on the characters and background. Is there any other "Popular Culture" source that might be mentioned in such a section? === Vernon White (talk) 19:08, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

(Undent) Understandable. It's just that, in a number of past discussions at Talk:Abortion, concerns have been raised over information regarding the practice of abortion before legalization (particularly in the U.S.). So as a preventative measure against similar objections being raised here it might be a good idea to add a source if you're going to introduce a reference to the film in the context of an example of the practice of abortion in the U.K. prior to 1967. Here's some stuff I found on Google about Vera Drake:

"Before 1967, abortion was a criminal offense in Britain, only permitted under very strict criteria. It was punishable by jail sentences of up to four years. But abortion remained an important form of contraception, particularly among working-class people whose access to other kinds of birth control was limited. Until the passing of the Abortion Act, it was estimated that there were 100,000 illegal abortions each year, often performed by working-class women like Vera Drake. We should not judge historical dramas only for historical correctness, but Vera Drake is an accurate reflection of the practice of working-class abortion and the way abortion law worked in the pre-1967 era."

I realize that "Popular culture" and "Trivia" are not the best examples of potential titles, but I've seen a "Trivia" section in at least one abortion-related article before (David Gunn (doctor)), and also introduced a " popular culture" section to Abortion-related violence. I gather it's somewhat customary to round up all the film, documentary, literature, music, etc. references that might not fit elsewhere in an article into a collective section (for example, see the "Media" section at World War II). As for other candidates for inclusion in such a "Media" section in this article, I'm Canadian, so I'm not as informed as editors in the U.K. might be. However, I do recall reading that Channel 4 aired a documentary called My Foetus (see the BBC News article, "Review: Abortion documentary is hard-hitting"). -Severa (!!!) 10:51, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

I made a few legal edits (sorry! but I am a Criminal Lawyer so cant help it!) Was interested to see the comment under Northern Ireland that there had been 60 prosecutions between 1925 and 1973, I would be interested to see a source for this as I cannot find any from my own research in Northern Ireland. Thanks! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Eodon (talkcontribs) 22:14, August 24, 2007 (UTC)

When the film was released there was criticism from expert sources that it underplayed the risks of the abortion methods used by Vera Drake. The film implied that she had been using her method (syringing the uterus with soapy water) for many years without problems, until one exceptional bad result caught her out. According to the experts, her method was much more dangerous than thid implied, with a serious risk of infection or even fatal embolisms. I don't know if this is true, but it wouldn't surprise me. (talk) 12:11, 31 August 2014 (UTC)


The sentence "These provisions remain the law but they have not deterred abortions" seems utterly unlikely and meaningless. I'd call it impossible. JohnHarris (talk) 07:32, 18 July 2008 (UTC)

Angus Reid Poll[edit]

The Angus Reid Poll which I deleted is from a web site which pays people to respond to polls. These people have chosen to be part of the panel. They are therefore a self-selected group. Tho polling organizations try to balance their sample, there is no getting away from the fact that this polling method is NOT random, which is the gold standard for opinion polling. Self selected groups are not valid polling samples. Also the results of the poll are at odds with all the other polls. The ip editor who reinstated this poll to the article claims that this organization is a member of the British Polling Council. I checked yesterday and the company was not listed. If I made a mistake I will apologize but it is up to you to prove this.--Hauskalainen (talk) 19:31, 15 January 2010 (UTC)


I have cut the words in italics from the following passage. There is no source and they appear to be at odds with the appearance of the word "unlawfully" in section 58.James500 (talk) 21:44, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

That section was replaced by section 58 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861, which made abortion or attempts to "procure a miscarriage" illegal under all and any circumstances, which provides:

I have cut the words "UK abortion law is based on several Acts of Parliament" from the lead. I am not convinced that one can properly speak of "UK abortion law" when England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland each have different laws in relation to abortion. I am also under the impression that in Scotland, the law relating to abortion subsists at common law (subject to modification by the 1967 Act), and cannot therefore be said to be "based" on an Act of Parliament. James500 (talk) 00:05, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

An anonymous editor says the article is not accurate[edit]

In light of this edit, could someone who has access to the full text of the BMJ paper check that the passage in question, which was added by another anonymous editor is accurate. James500 (talk) 06:09, 16 November 2011 (UTC)

In my view the original paragraph was inaccurate in that it attributed views to Claire Dyer which she may not have held -- a problem that I fixed a few weeks ago in this edit. I have access to the article so let me know if you have any further questions. NotFromUtrecht (talk) 19:31, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

Death of Savita Halappanavar[edit]

Hey, Why is this story a subsection of the Northern Ireland part? It happened in the Republic. Moreover, what is it doing in an article on abortion in the UK? ~ — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:50, 16 November 2012 (UTC)


Someone recently cut the following passages from the section on Northern Ireland:

The Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 allows abortion when necessary to protect the mother's physical and mental health.[1]
Abortion in Northern Ireland is only legal in exceptional circumstances where the life of the pregnant woman is at immediate risk and if there is a long term or permanent risk to her physical or mental health.[2]

I haven't restored the first because it isn't about NI. James500 (talk) 02:12, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified 5 external links on Abortion in the United Kingdom. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, please set the checked parameter below to true or failed to let others know (documentation at {{Sourcecheck}}).

You may set the |checked=, on this template, to true or failed to let other editors know you reviewed the change. If you find any errors, please use the tools below to fix them or call an editor by setting |needhelp= to your help request.

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

If you are unable to use these tools, you may set |needhelp=<your help request> on this template to request help from an experienced user. Please include details about your problem, to help other editors.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 21:09, 2 October 2016 (UTC)


The claimed legal position in Scotland here and elsewhere seems to be based on the same unsourced assertion that abortion was previously a Common Law offence 'unless performed for “reputable medical reasons”'. My understanding from comments made around the time of the 1967 Act was that abortion was not a specific offence in Scots Law; this is to be distinguished from other offences committed by the consequences of an abortion. Note also that organisations such as SPUC Scotland wrongly quote English Law (e.g. Offences Against the Person Act 1861) when addressing the legal position.MBRZ48 (talk) 20:43, 9 August 2017 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified 2 external links on Abortion in the United Kingdom. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

You may set the |checked=, on this template, to true or failed to let other editors know you reviewed the change. If you find any errors, please use the tools below to fix them or call an editor by setting |needhelp= to your help request.

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

If you are unable to use these tools, you may set |needhelp=<your help request> on this template to request help from an experienced user. Please include details about your problem, to help other editors.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 00:18, 7 December 2017 (UTC)

  1. ^ Birchard, Karen (2000). "Northern Ireland resists extending abortion Act". The Lancet. 356 (9223): 52. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)73390-0. 
  2. ^ See R v Bourne, referred to below and Q&A: Abortion in NI. BBC.