Activists in Scotland Want Government to OK Easy Access to Free, Late-Term Abortions

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Nov 2, 2015   |   2:50PM   |   Glasgow, Scotland

Abortion advocates in Scotland are pushing for easy access to late-term abortions this week.

Scotland currently allows abortion up to 24 weeks when a woman has the consent of two doctors; and in many areas abortions are paid for through the National Health Service, according to the NHS.

Now, The Scotsman reports a women’s group is calling for legislation that would expand abortions by allowing women to have an abortion with the consent of just one doctor.

Ann Henderson, assistant secretary of the Scotland Trade Union Congress, told The Scotsman: “Respecting women’s decisions about when, or if, to have a child is at the heart of the STUC’s commitment to ensuring abortion services remain free on the NHS, accessible, and safe.”

Abortion advocates say the legislation is “urgent” because of the lack of availability of abortions after 18 weeks in Scotland. The union does not want women to travel to England to have their late-term unborn babies killed.

The motion will be debated during the STUC Women’s Conference this week, according to the report.



The Scotsman reports:

Although the 24-week limit applies north of the Border, the convention in Scotland has been that late abortions are not usually granted.

A different surgical procedure is needed for terminations over 18 weeks and it is only made available in extreme cases of foetal abnormality and risk to the life of the mother.

However, pro-choice groups say there can also be an argument for a later termination if there is delayed recognition of pregnancy or a change in the woman’s circumstances.

Union leader Denise Christie said they have “a great deal of concern for women” seeking late-term abortions. She said it is “totally unacceptable” that women travel to England to have abortions and called on the Scottish government to “reverse this practice.”

Yet, Christie failed to extend that same concern to the women’s unborn babies.

The Scottish government appears unlikely to pass the proposed abortion expansion. A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government has no plans to change the law on abortion. Abortion is provided to all women in Scotland who require it within the legal limits.”

In 2014, 11,475 abortions were performed in Scotland, down from almost 14,000 in 2008, according to the Information Services Division of Scotland.

While the abortion rate is declining in Scotland, the number of women who have repeat abortions is high, previously reported.

The percent of women having (at least) a second abortion had increased from 31% in 2002 to 37% in 2012, according to a Marie Stopes UK survey. “A quarter of women aged under 25 were having at least their second abortion. In Scotland 31% of women had had a previous abortion,” according to the survey.

Of the women who said they had already had an abortion, “74% said they have had one previous abortion, 25% said two, and 1% reported three previous abortions,” according to the survey.