Statement on the devolution of abortion law

Wednesday 14-10-2015 - 18:25
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The Secretary of State for Scotland has announced that an amendment will be added to the Scotland Bill, currently making it's way through the Houses of Parliament, to devolve aboriton law to Scotland. It's vitally important that any discussions about what that will mean in practice meaningfully and genuinely involves those who are capable of conceiving.  


The devolution of Abortion Law was one of the issues rightly identified as contentious by the Smith Commission, and one of the issues where an open conversation with women and women’s organisations across Scotland is yet to be had.

In the grand scheme of rights, a woman’s right to choose is a relatively recent gain, and one that only came as the result of decades of fighting by women’s activists. NUS Scotland’s Women’s Campaign has long-standing policy to defend a woman’s right to choose, and we will continue to campaign to defend and extend a person’s rights, and access to safe and legal abortion. We also feel it’s important during this debate to acknowledge that not only women have abortions, but trans* and non-binary people who are capable of conceiving are also affected by this law and should be included in discussions on the issue.


While this initial amendment to the Scotland Bill is not designed to shape the policy abortion rights in Scotland, or the rest of the UK, as it stands – but is rather a legislative decision to devolve the ability to shape those rights - we hope that a progressive, devolved, abortion law will act as a catalyst for change in countries like Northern Ireland, where women still don’t have access to safe and legal abortions, while reaffirming a woman’s right to choose in England and Wales.


As the Bill progresses, we look forward to working with the Scottish government and Parliament, alongside other women’s organisations, to ensure that Scotland has a progressive policy on a woman’s right to choose.


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