bpas uses its experience of caring for women with unwanted pregnancy to inform those responsible for public policy on reproductive health issues. We work closely with the individuals and organisations responsible for reproductive healthcare. These include the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Department of Health, as well as opinion-formers within the media and international advocacy organisations.
Abortion in Britain is regulated according to the Abortion Act (1967), as amended by the Human
Fertilisation and Embryology Act (1990). This stipulates the grounds upon which an abortion can be
performed, and the premises on which an abortion can be carried out: in an NHS hospital or a place
approved by the Secretary of State.
Anonymised case-study audit of abortion requests above 22 weeks' gestation in 2008
bpas believes the law should be modernised in line with international practice and allow doctors to treat women undergoing abortion more appropriately, eg more similarly to women experiencing an early natural miscarriage at the same gestations. This would permit capacity for non-invasive early abortion care to be expanded, making access to earlier abortion more available under 63 days gestation.
Women in Northern Ireland do not have the same access to abortion as women in mainland Britain. Abortion law in Northern Ireland remains as it was in England, Wales and Scotland before the 1967 Abortion Act was passed by Parliament.
The wording of the Abortion Act 1967 enables abortions to be conducted lawfully only by 'registered medical practitioners'. This is interpreted as meaning only doctors registered by the General Medical Council, and to exclude nurses and midwives who have registration with their own professional bodies. BPAS and the Royal College of Nursing would like to see the wording of the law altered to allow the nursing role in abortion to expand, as has been permitted in other areas of healthcare since the 1960s.