2017 Campaign Update: Safeguarding reproductive rights

31 May 2017

The Green Party's 2017 Manifesto for Gender Equality continued our track record of supporting the righto chose. Greens would decriminalise abortion, and ensure equal access throughouthe UK.

Green Party Women manifesto launch 2017

Sarah Cope (second from right) with Amelia Womack (left) and former detainee Mabel Gawanas (second left) launching the Party's Manifesto for Gender Equality at Yarl's Wood detention centre in 2017. Reports of poor access to reproductive health care at the facility continue, amid calls from Greens and others that it should be closed

The Green Party has been a firm suppoter of the #WeTrustWomen campaign, with its members voting to make the decriminlisation of abortion Party Policy.

Sarah Cope, who wrote the Green's policy whilst Women's Spokesperson, told conference:

"The Green Party already has an excellent and progressive abortion policy. For example, a Green government would remove the requirement to obtain two doctors’ signatures in order to be allowed an abortion. 

"However, what we do not address in our current policy is that the 1967 Abortion Act, which did not extend to Northern Ireland, did not get rid of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act or decriminalise abortion, but instead carved out therapeutic exemptions to the OAPA (and equivalent common law in Scotland) and allowed abortion where women and doctors met certain requirements. 

"This piece of Victorian legislation is still in force today. In line with the punitive values of mid-Victorian Britain, it calls for one of the harshest penalties for unlawful abortion imposed by any country in Europe. 

"No other medical procedure in the country is governed by legislation this old, or this out-of-step with clinical developments and the moral thinking of the modern world. 

“Incredibly, women still get prosecuted and imprisoned due to this out of date legislation. Furthermore, the threat of prosecution that is unique to abortion deters many doctors from wanting to enter this fundamental area of women’s healthcare.” 

Katherine O’Brien, Media and Public Policy Manager at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) said: 

“One in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime, and the majority of the public support a woman’s right to choose, yet we have one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. Our legal framework has not caught up with the medical and societal developments since our Abortion Act was passed in 1967, and it is appalling that women still risk up to life imprisonment for ending a pregnancy.

“For far too long those opposed to abortion have been allowed to dominate the debate. We are delighted to see the Green Party leading the way and reaffirming their support for a woman’s right to choose by voting to decriminalise abortion.” 

The Green Party recognise that abortion is an issue that also affects non-binary individuals and trans men, and seeks to improve access to services for this group, as well as awareness of their needs. In the Party's 2017 Manifesto for Gender Equality, the Party also pledged to:

  • Increase assistance to destitute pregnant people and new parents. Everyone should be entitled to the highest standards of care during pregnancy and birth. These standards will be maintained for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, level of income, race or ethnicity, age or disability. We would reverse the exclusion of migrants from the mainstream benefits system. All new parents should be able to feed, clothe and house themselves and their babies.
  • Provide free NHS maternity care for everyone. Charging for healthcare is presented in the media as a strategy to deal with visitors from abroad, yet in reality this puts people in danger. No person should be wrongly refused, or asked to pay for, basic pregnancy and maternity care.
  • Reinstate our sexual health services. Since the introduction of the Health and Social Care Act, passing the responsibility for sexual health to councils, many centres providing contraception and maternal healthcare have reduced opening hours. The Green Party would reinstate and expand these services, providing high quality sexual health services for all.

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