Bill (HC Bill 276)



Amend the law relating to abortion in England and Wales, and Northern
Ireland; to remove criminal liability in respect of abortion performed with the
consent of the pregnant woman up to the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy; to
repeal sections 59 and 60 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861; to create
offences of termination of a pregnancy after its twenty-fourth week and non-
consensual termination of a pregnancy; to amend the law relating to
conscientious objection to participation in abortion treatment; and for
connected purposes.

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and
consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present
Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

1 Amendment of criminal law in relation to consensual termination of

(1) In this Act—

(a) “the 1861 Act” means the Offences Against the Person Act 1861,

(b) 5“the 1967 Act” means the Abortion Act 1967.

(2) For section 58 of the 1861 Act (administering drugs or using instruments to
procure abortion) substitute the following—

58 Causing abortion after twenty-four weeks

(1) A person (A) commits an offence if—

(a) 10the pregnancy of a woman (B) has exceeded its twenty-fourth

(b) A uses an instrument or performs any other procedure on B, or
administers to B any substance capable of causing abortion,

(c) B’s abortion results, and

(d) 15A intends to cause B’s abortion.

(2) If—

(a) proceedings for an offence under subsection (1) are brought
against a person (D) who, at the time of the alleged offence, was
a registered medical practitioner, and

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(b) the prosecution proves that the pregnancy had exceeded its
twenty-fourth week,

it is a defence to prove that D believed, in good faith, that the pregnancy
had not exceeded its twenty-fourth week.

(3) 5A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable on
conviction on indictment to imprisonment for life or for any shorter

(3) Sections 59 (procuring drugs, &c., to cause abortion) and 60 (concealing the
birth of a child) of the 1861 Act are repealed.

(4) 10The 1967 Act is amended as follows—

(a) paragraph (a) of section 1(1) (medical termination of pregnancy) is

(b) in section 1(2), omit “(a) or”;

(c) for paragraph (b) of section 2(1) (notification) substitute—

(b) 15for requiring a person of such description as may be so
prescribed to give such notice of the termination of a pregnancy,
and such other information relating to the termination, as may
be so prescribed;”;

(d) after section 5(2) (supplementary provisions), insert the following

(3) Nothing in section 1 or 3, or in subsection (2) of this
section, applies to conduct which, as a result of the
Abortion Act 2018, ceases to be an offence under the
Offences Against the Person Act 1861;

(e) 25in section 6, for “sections 58 and 59” substitute “section 58”.

2 Non-consensual termination of pregnancy

(1) A person (A) commits an offence if—

(a) in relation to a woman (B) A commits any unlawful act involving the
use or threat of force, or the administration of any substance capable of
30causing abortion,

(b) A believes that B is pregnant or is reckless as to whether she is
pregnant, and

(c) A intends to cause B’s abortion or is reckless as to whether her abortion

(2) 35For the purposes of subsection (1)—

(a) an act done by, or with the assistance or consent of, B, or done in good
faith by a registered medical practitioner, registered nurse or registered
midwife, is not to be considered unlawful,

(b) but B is not to be treated as consenting to the administration of a
40substance unless she is aware of its nature as a substance capable of
causing abortion.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable on conviction on
indictment to imprisonment for life or for any shorter term.

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3 Conscientious objection to participation in treatment

(1) Subsections (1) and (2) of section 4 of the 1967 Act (conscientious objection to
participation in treatment) are repealed.

(2) Subject to subsection (3), no person shall be under any duty, whether by
5contract or by any statutory or other legal requirement, to participate in any
treatment for the termination of pregnancy to which that person has a
conscientious objection; provided that in any legal proceedings the burden of
proof of conscientious objection shall rest on the person claiming to rely on it.

(3) Nothing in subsection (2) affects any duty to participate in treatment which is
10necessary to save the life, or to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical
or mental health, of a pregnant woman.

(4) The duty of—

(a) the Secretary of State under section 1 of the National Health Service Act
2006 (Secretary of State’s duty to promote health service), and

(b) 15the Welsh Ministers under section 1 of the National Health Service
(Wales) Act 2006 (Welsh Ministers’ duty to promote health service)

includes a duty to provide or secure services such that the timely access to
treatment for the termination of pregnancy is not impeded by the operation of
subsection (2).

4 20Short title, commencement, and extent

(1) This Act may be cited as the Abortion Act 2018.

(2) This Act comes into force at the end of the period of six months beginning with
the day on which it is passed.

(3) Sections 1(4), 3(1) and 3(4) extend to England and Wales only.

(4) 25The other provisions of this Act extend to England and Wales and Northern
Ireland only.