The British Medical Association (BMA) has recommended that the 1967 Abortion Act be overhauled to ensure abortion is no longer legally classified as a crime in the UK.
During the BMA annual representative meeting, a debate and vote resulted in members of the doctors' union expressing support for the removal of criminal sanctions associated with the procedure.
“The British Medical Association has backed calls for abortion to be decriminalised across the UK.“
As it stands, abortion is considered a crime in England and Wales unless women are able to prove to a doctor that proceeding with the pregnancy is detrimental to their health and wellbeing, in which case they can receive permission for a termination.
The BMA acknowledged that the issue is a sensitive and complex one, noting that these procedures still need to be subject to regulation and limitations, but adding that these ought to be subject to professional and regulatory - not criminal - sanctions.
BMA medical ethics committee chair John Chisholm said: "Abortion is currently a crime, with exceptions, throughout the UK. Following the debate the majority of doctors were clear that abortion should be treated as a medical issue, rather than a criminal one."
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