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23 January 2014

January digest: Bad news stories

This has so far been the year of bad news about abortion. But the striking thing is how these stories illustrate the widespread confusion, among those working in policy and the media, about what the abortion law does, how the abortion service works, and - above all - how abortion should be regulated.

This month’s top stories on Reproductive Review:

1) The Times – leading in two directions on abortion. 20 January 2014

What does the Times (London) think about abortion? It clearly depends on who is writing the editorials on the day.

2) UK: Regulating ‘good faith’. 23 January 2014

The aim of the government’s consultation on the regulation of abortion clinics seems to be a tightening, not a lightening, of the rules.

3) Q&A – Britain’s abortion law. 22 January 2014

What does the 1967 Abortion Act does; what it means for doctors to ‘act in good faith’; what ‘risk to health’ means; why it is legal to terminate a pregnancy because of a woman’s social or financial circumstances; the legal situation surrounding abortion for fetal sex and the pre-signing of authorisation forms; and why the British law does not give women ‘abortion on demand’.

4) Q&A – Sex ratios and abortion. 15 January 2014

What is the basis for the Independent’s extraordinary claim that the ‘commonplace’ practice of sex selection abortion has led to ‘between 1,400 and 4,700’ missing girls in Britain?

5) Abortion law: the lessons from Spain. 8 January 2014

In an unstable climate, neither legal principles nor political pragmatism can prevent women and doctors from finding themselves suddenly exposed to criminal sanction.

6) Q&A – The Spanish abortion law. 7 January 2014

The Spanish government has approved a restrictive new law that would make abortion illegal except in very limited circumstances. Voices from around the world have condemned this move. Here, we discuss how the proposed new law differs from previous Spanish legislation on abortion, and what this is likely to mean for women and the doctors who care for them.

7) France: Proposed equality law includes abortion, paternity leave and child beauty pageants. 20 January 2014

The French parliament has been asked to approve a wide-ranging bill enforcing equality for women in their personal and professional lives.

8) UK: Increased maternal age causing problems for midwives, says RCM. 6 January 2014

Older, more overweight mothers are placing an increased strain on midwives who believe they are already conducting close to 130,000 deliveries a year for which they do not have sufficient resources, the Royal College of Midwives has said.

9) UK: No ‘golden age’ of breastfeeding. 7 January 2014

As Liberal Democrat equalities minister Jo Swinson challenges the obsession with breastfeeding, a thoughtful article on BBC Online looks at the history of the practice.

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