Plaid Candidate for Bangor calls for abortion to be fully decriminalised

Catrin Wager, Plaid Cymru candidate for the new constituency of Bangor Aberconwy, has written to the three MPs who currently represent the constituency, to ask them to support amendments that may come before the House of Commons this week.

Catrin is joining the doctors and academics who are calling for an urgent change to the 1861 law that means abortion is technically still illegal, without medical authorisation, which could leave women who terminate a pregnancy at risk of a jail sentence.

As Catrin Wager explains:

“As it stands, technically, women could still be prosecuted for abortion due to legislation that dates back to 1861. Although the Abortion Act 1967 decriminalised abortion in some circumstances, it is framed in a way that does not mean abortion is a right. Instead, it exempts a woman from prosecution when two doctors agree the pregnancy would be a risk to her physical or mental health.

“This leaves women who carry out an abortion at risk of prosecution and while cases are rare, they are increasing. There were 6 prosecutions in England in 2023, and the strain of these prosecutions on the women involved must be immense. That is why decriminalising abortion is so important. It provides clarity and certainty that women who have an abortion will not be prosecuted.”

The Criminal Justice Bill will be debated in the House of Commons this week, which covers a range of issues. MP’s have tabled amendments to the bill to try and include decriminalisation of abortion. According to Dr Jonathan Lord, co-chair of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists abortion task force, speaking in the Financial Times last week “There is a real urgency to change the law to address a real surge in the number of cases of women being investigated.”

As Catrin explains: “The urgency of this situation is why I have written to all three MP’s who currently represent Bangor Aberconwy, asking them to back the amendments to decriminalise abortion. We’ve seen frightening developments in the USA as the right to abortion is taken away in some states – we cannot allow that to happen here.

“There are all sorts of reasons women may choose to seek an abortion, and we must not be placed at risk of prosecution because of it. Women have fought long and hard for their rights, and we must not take a step back now.”

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