US ruling will encourage efforts to change UK abortion laws, MPs told

Far-right American groups wanting to roll back UK abortion protections will be given “renewed impetus” by a landmark US Supreme Court ruling, MPs have heard.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 29th June 2022, 7:33 am
The US Suprme Court ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in about half of US states
The US Suprme Court ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in about half of US states

Labour former minister Dame Diana Johnson issued the warning as she raised concerns over the decision in the United States to end constitutional protections for abortion that have been in place for nearly 50 years.

The decision to overturn the landmark Roe v Wade ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half of US states.

Dame Diana pressed for the UK government to introduce buffer zones near abortion clinics and offer assurances on their commitment to protecting the rights of women to “bodily autonomy”.

She asked Foreign Office minister Amanda Milling: “Can the minister confirm that the government will continue to support and fund reproductive healthcare programmes, including access to terminations around the world, in light of this decision?

“With far-right American groups already organising on rolling back the 1967 Abortion Act in this country, this decision will give them renewed impetus for their work.

“So will the government look again at protecting women attending abortion clinics through the introduction of buffer zones, as proposed by (Rupa Huq, Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton)?

“And, finally, will the government confirm its commitment on women’s rights to access reproductive healthcare – including abortion – and if the government plans to change human rights legislation in the UK, that it will completely safeguard the rights of women to bodily autonomy.”

Ms Milling said of the US Supreme Court decision: “As the prime minister said at the weekend, he felt – and I share the view – that this is a big step backwards.

“In relation to our position on sexual reproductive health and rights, including safe abortion, the UK is proud to defend and promote universal and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights, which is a fundamental to unlock the potential agency and freedom of women and girls.

“We will continue to push for strong supportive language in the UN and other international fora.”

Conservative former minister Jackie Doyle-Price said the UK needs to “lead by example” and reform its own abortion laws to ensure they are in the interest of women’s health.

She said: “Can I just say to the minister that we are in no stronger position to lecture the United States about this because we have done much the same ourselves.”