One of the most common debate in the medical sector in the UK revolves around abortion. It’s an emotive topic and both sides of the argument are passionate about their stance. So, as a professional which side of the fence do you fall and does it impact on the care you deliver?

Abortion has been legal on a wide range of ground in England, Wales, and Scotland since the Abortion Act 1967 and it one of the most liberal abortion laws in Europe. Most abortions in these countries are carried out before 24 weeks of pregnancy, although they can be carried out after this point in certain circumstances, for example if the mother’s life is at risk or the child would be born with a severe disability. However, in Northern Ireland the situation is different and performing an abortion in the country is an offence except in specific cases. The abortion debate isn’t new or restricted to the UK – it’s one that’s occurring across the world.

The argument for legal abortion

One of the core arguments to legal abortion is the woman’s right to choose what happens to her body and to have control over her choices. Many argue that it’s a fundamental right that a pregnant woman is free to choose whether to proceed with the pregnancy or choose an abortion.

From a medical point of view, is the perception that personhood only starts when a foetus is viable outside of the womb, rather than at conception. Babies born before the 24-week cut off time for an abortion can occasionally survive with specialist care but the odds of survival are much lower – for this reason some people that advocate for legal abortion would like to see the timeframe reduced. Supporting when a foetus become a person is research from the Royal College of Obstetricians, which found that foetuses are incapable of feeling pain at the time that most abortions are performed.

Another argument in favour is build on the understanding that some women will still seek to have an abortion even if it’s illegal. Access to legal, professional abortions that are carried out by professionals reduces the risk of maternal death and injury.

The argument against legal abortion

The key argument against abortion is that life begins at conception – making abortion murder. It’s a view that many people take and part of what makes the debate so strong. The argument of when a foetus is considered a person is important to both sides of the debate and fundamental to where you stand.

Among the other core reasons related to why people are against abortion include religious and faith reasons, and the potential for the experience to cause psychological damage to the mother. With medical advancements, it’s also possible for mothers to choose to abort based on medical reasons. Those against abortion note that it could lead to over discrimination, where babies that would be born with genetic abnormalities could be aborted.

It’s a debate that everyone, whether they work in the medical profession or not, has an opinion on. So, which side of the argument do you back and why?