RCOG lends support to decriminalisation of abortion

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has voted in favour of supporting the removal of criminal sanctions associated with abortion in the UK.

Announcing its decision, the RCOG said its members believe the procedure should be subject to regulatory and professional standards rather than any criminal sanctions. This would bring it in line with other medical procedures.

The RCOG said that although abortion services should be regulated, it should be treated as a medical issue, rather than a criminal one for women, doctors and other healthcare professionals. The body added that it is not calling for any change in gestational limits for abortion, saying they should remain in place through the appropriate regulatory and legislative process.

Professor Lesley Regan, RCOG president, said: “I am pleased that the Council of our College has voted in support of removing criminal sanctions associated with abortion.

“Having a formal position on decriminalisation will enable the College to usefully contribute to the debate surrounding what a post-decriminalisation landscape might look like.”

She went on to say that it was important to note that “decriminalisation does not mean deregulation”. Professor Regan said she believes the RCOG has a responsibility to protect women’s health by ensuring access to this “key healthcare service”.

Kate Brian, chair of the RCOG’s Women’s Network and a member of the RCOG Council, added her support, saying that the network fully support the RCOG’s position.

She added that the network “appreciates the range of views women hold on this matter, but believes this important step will help improve access to this essential area of women’s healthcare”.

The RCOG represents the group of doctors who provide the majority of abortion services across the UK.ADNFCR-2094-ID-801840306-ADNFCR