Progress for women

PUBLISHED: 17:01 14 August 2008 | UPDATED: 16:29 05 May 2010

SIR - Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (amendments). Shortly in Parliament MPs will have the first opportunity in 18 years to end the unnecessary barriers which women still face when trying to access abortion. Whilst some media headlines would hav

SIR - Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (amendments).

Shortly in Parliament MPs will have the first opportunity in 18 years to end the unnecessary barriers which women still face when trying to access abortion.

Whilst some media headlines would have us believe that abortion is easily accessible to all women, the reality is that women commonly face obstruction from anti-abortion GPs and a postcode lottery in NHS provision. This can result in women experiencing distressing delays and being forced to have later abortions, pay hundreds of pounds for private treatment or continue with an unwanted pregnancy.

No woman takes the decision to have an abortion lightly and current practice, rather than supporting women through this, can make the experience more, not less difficult. Medical and health organisations, as well as the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, all agree that medical ethics and practice around abortion have moved on since 1967 and recommend that these unnecessary obstructions to abortion be removed.

In May, despite a sensationalist and misleading anti-abortion campaign, a majority of MPs voted against any lowering of the abortion time limit. Unfortunately, local MP Oliver Heald voted to restrict women's rights. The next stage of the Bill will be his opportunity to support progress for women and improve his standing among women in his constituency.

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