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Procuring a miscarriage

02 February 2016
Volume 24 · Issue 2

A woman has been jailed for 2½ years after she admitted taking poison she had bought on the internet to terminate her pregnancy (R v Towers [2015]). The woman pleaded guilty to administering a poison with intent to procure a miscarriage when she was between 32 and 34 weeks pregnant because she could not deal with the stress of the pregnancy.

It is essential that midwives and nurses working in family planning services make women aware that it is unlawful to procure a miscarriage and that any termination of pregnancy must follow the requirements of the Abortion Act 1967.

The Abortion Act 1967 regulates the availability and delivery of treatment for the termination of pregnancy in the UK except for Northern Ireland, where it currently remains within the limits of the common law. To be lawful, a termination of pregnancy must be covered by the provisions of the Abortion Act 1967, which creates a defence to the long-established criminal offences of unlawfully procuring a miscarriage under section 58 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 or child destruction under section 1(1) of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929.

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