Access to abortion is a basic human right


Last week the state of Alabama signed into law a bill that prevents women accessing safe abortion services, even in cases of rape and incest (Report, 16 May). Doctors who perform abortion will face up to 99 years in jail. We expect our government to condemn this law in the harshest possible terms and to uphold the determination by the UN that access to abortion is a human right. We expect our government to stand strong with those who will tirelessly fight this injustice by raising this issue at the highest possible levels.

We know that sanctions do not deter women from seeking abortion, but drive them to unsafe treatments or force them to travel to other places. But the voice of the UK is diminished and its authority undermined by the even more draconian abortion laws in Northern Ireland, which criminalise women as well as doctors.

It is time for this government to act, to legislate for safe abortion services in Northern Ireland and to denounce this unjust movement, spreading across America, which will cost women and girls their lives.
Professor Lesley Regan
President, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

• Saturday’s guide to sex and intimacy doesn’t mention conception, or its concomitant, contraception. Reasonable enough, given the small proportion of heterosexual couplings that are intended to create a new life relative to those intended to create mutual sexual fulfilment.

But the role of men in causing pregnancies, both desired and unwanted, means we do indeed have the responsibility to provide the support for pro-choice activities Gaby Hinsliff urges on us in the same issue (Journal, 18 May). Polling in Britain shows that the current legal provision of abortion and the principles on which it is based are regularly supported by over 80% of the population, which must mean a big majority of men support it.

And as Emma Brockes says (Journal, 17 May), crackdowns on women’s autonomy always bear more heavily on poorer families, and the reason a pregnancy is unwanted is often that the family simply can’t afford another mouth to feed. Family men in these circumstances don’t all live down to the stereotype and will be supportive of the woman’s choice. Involving us in the campaigning can only strengthen that support.
Nik Wood

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