WEBINAR: A Woman’s Place UK is fighting for a woman’s right to choose

WEBINAR: #WPUKReproductiveRights

A Woman’s Place is Fighting for a Woman’s Right to Choose: Vulnerable Women, Crisis Pregnancies & the Criminal Justice System

WEBINAR: #WPUKReproductiveRights

**This event has passed. You can watch the webinar here**


We invite you to join the conversation with Dr Emma Milne, expert and campaigner on women’s reproductive rights, and Dr Shonagh Dillon.

We need to talk about a small but incredibly vulnerable group of women who are prosecuted and imprisoned under archaic criminal offences such as concealment of birth and procuring a miscarriage. Research by Dr Emma Milne demonstrates these women experience “crisis pregnancies” and are living in cycles of violence and abuse with limited social support. Some experienced multiple pregnancies where they were unable to recognise and/or accept that they were pregnant and so seek medical care.

These women experience the brutal consequences of the involvement of the criminal law in the regulation of women’s bodies and their right to choose how a pregnancy ends. While their cases may seem unfamiliar to most women who access abortion (one in three of us), it is these vulnerable women who are criminalised under laws that could be used against any woman who becomes pregnant.

A Woman’s Place is Fighting for a Woman’s Right to Choose will ask some big questions. Why are women’s reproductive functions and our reproductive rights subject to criminal law? What does it mean for our current and future abortion rights? Why is ‘concealment of a pregnancy’ a criminal offence and what does this mean for the most vulnerable women? What is a ‘crisis pregnancy’? What is foetal protectionism?

In Britain, criminal law stops women having a right to abortion and abortion at any stage of gestation is illegal if not conducted in limited circumstances. Cases resulting in the criminalisation of women illustrate a drive toward foetal protectionism, and use of the criminal law to punish pregnant women who fail to act within the narrow confines of societal expectation.

According to the Center for Reproductive Rights41% of women worldwide live in countries with restricted reproductive rights and restrictive abortion laws. So what is the situation here in the UK? At Woman’s Place UK, we believe that The Offences Against the Person Act 1861 must be reformed:

  • Sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 are repealed to remove abortion from the criminal law.

  • Section 60 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 is repealed to remove the offence of concealment of birth.

Allowing women and girl’s bodies to be subject to outdated and restrictive laws places unnecessary and harmful barriers to accessing safe and timely healthcare.

Dr Emma Milne is Associate Professor in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice at Durham University. Her research focuses on criminal law and criminal justice responses to infant killing and foetal harm. The wider context of Emma’s work is social controls and regulations of all women, notably in relation to pregnancy, sex, and motherhood. Find out more about Emma’s research and receive updates about the campaign to change the law.

Dr Shonagh Dillon is the CEO at Aurora New Dawn, a domestic abuse, sexual violence and stalking charity supporting victim/survivors. Shonagh has worked in the male violence against women movement for nearly 3 decades.  A Director of Woman’s Place UK. She writes for The Critic.

Woman’s Place UK have organised 31 public meetings, 11 webinars and two conferences. These events have been hugely popular with over 15,000 tickets booked. We were winner of the Emma Humphreys Memorial Award 2018. Kiri Tunks, one of our founders, has been awarded the NEU’s Annie Higdon Award.

WEBINAR: #WPUKReproductiveRights

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A Woman’s Place is Fighting for a Woman’s Right to Choose: Vulnerable Women, Crisis Pregnancies & the Criminal Justice System

We believe that it is important to share a range of viewpoints on women’s rights and advancement from different perspectives. WPUK does not necessarily agree or endorse all the views that we share.