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Editor's Choice

End criminal sanctions for abortion

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: (Published 23 November 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j5409
  1. Richard Hurley, features and debates editor
  1. The BMJ
  1. rhurley{at}

The 1967 Abortion Act entitled British women to a legal termination of pregnancy, provided that certain conditions were met. It created exemptions to the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, which is still on the statute books and makes abortion a crime punishable by life in prison.

Calls for legal reform are gathering momentum, as Sally Howard reports (doi:10.1136/bmj.j5278). Critics claim that the law is out of step with public attitudes, hinders evidence based clinical practice, and stigmatises procedures that a third of UK …

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