Many constituents have been in touch with me about NC55 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which proposed changes to abortion law. Abortion is a sensitive and emotive issue, and I respect that there are strongly held views on all sides of the debate.
My personal view is that every woman should have the right to choose, and that all women in the UK should have access to safe, legal abortion. I understand that NC55 was tabled as a probing amendment on the bounds of abortion law in England and Wales. Under the current law, women and medical professionals remain bound by the criminal law when accessing or providing abortion services. This is out of step with much of Europe, and out of step with the new law in Northern Ireland, which I voted for.
Decriminalisation, that is no longer subjecting women, doctors and midwives to the criminal law, does not mean de-regulation of abortion provision. This would still include the requirement for providers to be trained and registered, for premises to meet certain standards and undergo regular inspections, and for essential aspects of care including informed consent, safeguarding, and guidance on how to use medication to be included as part of the service.
This week, NC55 did not come to a vote as part of the debate on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, so will not be part of the new legislation.
Ultimately, I would have to consider any change to the law on abortion on its own merits – taking into account my own views, those of my constituents, and those of trusted bodies such as medical Royal Colleges.