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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > May-18 > The coming abortion battle

The coming abortion battle

Britain’s laws are not as liberal as you think. Now, five decades on from the landmark Abortion Act, campaigners believe it’s time to push for full decriminalization

At the end of May, Ireland could become the latest European country to legalise abortion. A referendum to repeal the country’s 8th Amendment may lead to the end of restrictive laws which, according to the United Nations, violate women’s human rights. That will leave just two European nations where abortion remains illegal: Malta and Northern Ireland. But there are three other nations in Europe that retain highly restrictive laws which criminalise abortion unless performed under certain circumstances. And one of those is Great Britain.

There is a widespread assumption in this country that the 1967 Abortion Act, part of Roy Jenkins’s raft of reforms which created the “permissive society,” decriminalised abortion in England, Scotland and Wales. That’s not strictly accurate. The 1967 Act provided exemptions under which women would not be prosecuted according to the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s May issue: More than a dozen writers critique the current state of economics, suggesting there are still lessons to learn more than a decade on from the financial crash. Howard Reed writes that the ideas we hold about the way economics works need to be ripped up. Ten of the world’s best living economists explain what, in their view, is the single most important lesson economics still has to learn, and Linda Yueh suggests what three of the past masters would think about economics today. Elsewhere in the issue: Vernon Bogdanor outlines why Brexit could cause a constitutional crisis in Britain; Jean H Lee explains why young South Koreans don’t want their country to reunify with their Northern neighbours; Sian Norris writes about the coming battle over abortion and shows where the UK ranks among its European peers; and Sonia Purnell profiles Jacob Rees-Mogg.
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