Wendy Savage is the co-ordinator or Doctors for a Woman’s Choice on Abortion. This letter was originally published in the Guardian.
We congratulate Diana Johnston for introducing her bill (New bill to challenge UK’s Victorian-era abortion law, 14 March) and are delighted it was passed by 172 to 142 votes. As a 10-minute rule bill, it has no chance of becoming law, but it is important in starting the debate about whether, after 50 years, it is time to revisit the 1967 Abortion Act. It is time to treat abortion like any other medical procedure, and control it with regulation and the GMC. It is wrong that three women have been jailed or had a suspended sentence, and that doctors responding to women’s requests may face criminal prosecution. Many people (and even some gynaecologists) do not realise abortion is a criminal offence unless it conforms with the conditions set out in the Act. Up to 80% of people polled believe the woman should make the decision in consultation with her doctor and 90% of a random sample of gynaecologists surveyed in 2015 said that the woman should make the decision to end her pregnancy. It is time for women to be treated as autonomous adults capable of making their own decisions about continuing a pregnancy, a view that the some tabloid newspapers seem incapable of understanding.