BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Talking Point  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 09:54 GMT 10:54 UK
Abortion pill: Should it be made more widely available?
Talking Point: Abortion Pill
Women are to be offered greater access to abortions under new UK Government plans.

The Department of Health has confirmed that some family planning centres will, for the first time, be able to offer the so-called "abortion pill".

The pill has so far been available only in hospital wards and special day units but ministers believe if it was more widely available it would reduce distressing waits of up to five weeks to end a pregnancy.

But pro-life groups believe the government is being irresponsible and is not taking abortion seriously.

They believe having less time to think about an abortion and reflect can actually make a woman more pressured and more distressed.

Do you agree women should have greater access to abortion? Should family planning centres be able to offer the abortion pill? Or can the government be accused of not treating abortion seriously enough?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

It is up to the individual whether or not to go through with a pregnancy

Matt Carpanini, UK
In my view it's about personal choice. Making the abortion pill more widely available will allow more room for personal choice on the matter. I can only see this as a good thing. It is up to the individual whether or not to go through with a pregnancy. By all means, non-biased information should be freely available for the person or persons involved. But, if this pill was not made available, it would restrict choice and that would be a greater crime.
Matt Carpanini, UK

Aside from Europe's "deflating morality" the point is that women will seek abortions whether they are legal or not. Is it not a better idea that abortion is made available in its most simple and least harmful form?
D. Walton, UK

Surely many people debating here are missing one simple fact - women who want to abort will do so whether it is legal, illegal, expensive, free of charge etc etc. As this is the case it is only right to allow them to do it as quickly and efficiently as possible. To force women to go through increased emotional pain or financial cost when the outcome will be the same is more inhumane than any abortion.
Kate Bez, England

In the United States we have a law that if a man kills a pregnant woman, he will be charged with TWO counts of murder. In fact, most polls show that a majority of Americans feel abortion is truly unfortunate. May we never become like Europe whose deflating morality and indifferent masses look at abortion pills as they would a laxative. The destruction of a fetus at any point is the death of a person.

This method is preferable to a termination later in the pregnancy

Tony, England
As I understand it, the 'abortion pill' is only effective when used within a few days of conception. Surely when a pregnancy is terminated this early on, not even the most rabid pro-lifer can claim that a child has been killed. We are talking about a few cells, not even a formed embryo. Surely if we are going to allow abortion, then this method is preferable to a termination later in the pregnancy with the resulting emotional trauma to the woman involved and moral questions raised.
Tony, England

Until a community raises a child and helps every family (two parent or single parent) raise thier children, that community should not have any say in the decision of whether or not to have a child. People have mentioned adoption, but no one mentioned the statistics from before abortion was legal. The number of babies placed into orphanages is horrifying! And since the parents never had any intention of reclaiming the children, the children were left to the whims of the their caregivers. Hardly a responsible choice for a parent.
Anon, Chicago, USA

Are people really suggesting that all "unwanted" children are better off dead than in care? I'd like to thank my biological mother for bringing me to term and giving me up for adoption. By all means put the health of the mother ahead of that of the child. But is there not a case for putting the life of the child ahead of the convenience of the mother? Also, if the mother chooses to bear and care for the child then the father is liable for support payments irrespective of his wishes regarding the pregnancy, and he is therefore made a financial slave on the wishes of another. Just because something is legal does not mean that it is right in an absolute sense, and you can be sure that the current abortion law is far from perfect.
Andy, UK living in US

There is no point in giving them the opportunity to abort if it means missing a chance to teach them responsibility

Ed Karten, UK
Education education, education. That means finding methods to eradicate teenage unwanted pregnancies. If responsible adults want to end a pregnancy, that's their decision. But teenagers who can barely decide which pop idol is flavour of the month shouldn't be deciding over a life. Not getting pregnant in the first place is what it is about. Scare campaigns are used to put teenagers off drugs, smoking, etc. There is no point in giving them the opportunity to abort if it means missing a chance to teach them responsibility.
Ed Karten, UK

I am all for freedom of choice; I believe that it is better to abort an unwanted child than to bring it into the world where it may not be loved; I agree strongly that easier abortions will not make them more common. But until Northern Ireland is equal with the rest of the UK on this issue, a medical abortion pill probably isn't going to make a lot of difference to women here.
Catherine, Northern Ireland

It's unfair to point out that it's mainly men that oppose the abortion pill. It's mainly religious men.
Jon E, France

Britain, as the head of the Commonwealth, should set a good example when it comes to safe sex and birth control. In a world with over 6 billion people and limited resources, Britain's acceptance of this abortion pill is the right decision. As a citizen in a Commonwealth country I applaud the British Government's decision and ask other Commonwealth countries to follow suit.
Louise, Sydney, Australia

I would advocate the complete absence of government from this very personal issue. Abortion is a woman's right. Rights only apply to persons, who have been born and have already completed the reproductive cycle, not potential persons still being reproduced. So, if a woman determines through her own morals, values and conscience that RU-486 is what is needed to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, then the government should respect that decision. Women are not stock farm breeding pigs!
Natasha, Toronto, Canada

I think I will agree with the genuine experts here

Simon R, UK

So Simon R, what choice does the unborn child have or is that too awkward a question to be answered in this "rights and no responsibilities" era we live in.
Gerry, Scotland

After a quick read through this topic I notice that most of those opposed to the pill are men, and most who support it are women. I think I will agree with the genuine experts here. No amount of pontificating about the rights of the unborn should allow the state to inflict its opinion on a woman's body. Freedom of choice is just that.
Simon R, UK

Gill Duval said: "What are we saying about our women that we are so unprepared to have children?". Perhaps instead we should be taking a long hard, critical look at why our society is so hostile, overly moralising and downright unhelpful to women with children, particularly single mothers and those who wish to work. Then we may see why one in five women of childbearing age decide (by whatever means, abortion being the most desperate of them) not to have children.
Caroline, UK

Are not 600 abortions a day (in England and Wales) already enough? What are we saying about our women that we are so unprepared to have children?
Gill Duval, England

Personally I think a woman has the right to control whether she has a child or not. Making the pill more widely available is not forcing women to use it, it is still their choice.
Morgan Pugh, UK

I am saddened that so many abortions still need to take place given the easy accessibility of contraception

Jane, Wales, UK
Although I am not against abortion, I am nevertheless surprised and saddened that so many abortions still need to take place given the easy accessibility of contraception and information about the way our bodies work that previous generations could only dream of. Furthermore, it can take a healthy, fertile couple who actually want a baby several months or even years to conceive, so how come so many unplanned pregnancies seem to happen after just one instance of contraceptive failure? Or are some women actually playing Russian roulette with their bodies?
Jane, Wales, UK

The people that seem to have such strong opinions about this subject are people who have never been, and probably never will be in this situation. They should open their eyes and face up to what is happening in today's society, and stop living in the past, when abortion was still happening, but was done in such an 'underground' way that it led to the physical and emotional damage of women. Nowadays, women are offered more emotional support, to make a decision that is right both for the unborn child and herself at that time. These people should get out more, visit a family planning clinic and meet these women themselves before they make any judgement.
Jill, UK

To Samantha and Phoebe - you are missing the point completely! My husband and I have been trying for over a year for a baby and are now being considered for IVF and we can definitely see the connection between an unwanted pregnancy and a childless couple - it's called adoption! How much more of their responsibilities do some women want other people to take on for them? There is contraception available in every high street, supermarket and most clubs and bars, then there is the morning-after pill and now the abortion pill. And for those who say anti-abortionists have never been in the distressing position of "needing" an abortion - have you ever been in the distressing position of being infertile and then being told it is virtually impossible to adopt in this country because abortion is so accessible? It sickens us that so many people are throwing away the one thing we want most and would do anything for.
Jennifer, UK

I cannot see the connection between childless couples who want a baby and a woman, who for whatever reason, takes the decision that an abortion is the only option for her. I do not see, as some do, that this proposed measure to introduce the pill will be a slap in the face. The issues are unconnected. Why would it help the couple if another unwanted child is born into this world? Surely a baby should only be born to someone who loves and wants a child and who is able to care for it both mentally and financially. If this pill enables a woman to avoid an operation then it is surely a good thing. If you are to have an abortion then you have surely already exhausted all other options.
Samantha, Yorkshire, England

It is ludicrous, and insensitive, to suggest that the abortion pill will merely become another form of contraception

Phoebe, UK
It has been suggested here that women will not bother to use contraception if they can 'simply take a pill to do away with an unwanted child'. Given that having an abortion through the use of any method is extremely distressing both mentally and physically, it is ludicrous, and insensitive, to suggest that the abortion pill will merely become another form of contraception - a pill to be popped without a second thought. This does not mean I am all for making the abortion pill more available. There are currently lots of options and help available to any woman in the unfortunate situation of having an unwanted pregnancy. Compared to other countries, the UK is doing a great job in providing help and support to women considering abortions.
Phoebe, UK

I think that if people had more faith in God, anything would be possible. And if they feared God more, there would be no need for abortions. People treat sex and the potential to create a new life too carelessly. People look to abortion when their sins have led them to such a situation. And to those sins they respond with even greater evil. I just hope God will be merciful to us.
Petar Zecevic, Croatia

It's the woman's right to choose, but every baby has the right to have a chance in life also. So, every baby is a wanted baby, I say.
Dorothy, New Zealand

It is not right for women to say they have a right to do whatever they like with their own bodies. A foetus is not part of their own body, it is the body of a new human being and should be treated with as much respect as we are taught to treat humans outside the womb. If women morally reordered their lives and outlawed sex before marriage then I'm sure the number of unwanted pregnancies would plummet.
R Steward, UK

We should spend more effort on the message that sex is special and should be saved for couples that will commit to each other for life if at all possible. There is so much material around that promotes the abuse of sex. If someone does accidentally get pregnant we should value the life of the child as much as the adult and only in exceptional circumstances go down the route of abortion. It seems strange that some would so easily throw the life of an unwanted child away, when others have great difficulty in having children and try everything in their power to conceive. All life is special, have we any right to just throw it away?
Colin Shelton, England

It's a woman's body, it's up to them

Mike, UK
Personally, I think this is a breakthrough which should help to decrease the number of unwanted children being brought into the world. It is so easy to be judgemental when you have never had to choose between the birth of an unwanted child or abortion. I do not see all these pro-life people offering to care for all the unwanted children being born. I find their attitude appalling. Why do they think they have the right to dictate to anyone about anything? Also, are they pro any life, no matter how awful? What about the life of the reluctant mother? Her life and the unwanted child's is quite likely to be an unhappy one if forced into motherhood.
Emma, UK

If there is proper control of the drug - i.e. not over the counter. This is great. It's a woman's body, it's up to them. This is a good thing if it's properly regulated.
Mike, UK

It strikes me as appalling that the government is making abortion easier without any Parliamentary debate. Why can't there be time for debate and consultation. At a time when the government ought to be looking at why women are driven to seeking abortions and providing support so that women don't feel that killing their baby is the only way they can act, this new initiative is irresponsible and immeasurably destructive. It seems that human life is so cheap in England that pilot schemes allowing babies to be killed in the comfort of your home don't even merit debate in Parliament. Shame on the government for its cavalier disregard for human life and its willingness to trample over democracy, women and children. This is not a government that deserves any power over human life.
Joanne, UK

Men haven't got the right to interfere in an issue that must be exclusively dealt with by the ones who will in fact feel its effects

Luciano Monteiro, Brazil
I had an abortion when I was an emotionally immature 17-year-old. I would have made an horrific mother at that time and would never have stayed with the father. I would have resented my child (unfairly, but hugely) for having curtailed my life, my education and my freedom. How dare anyone take it upon themselves to decide that I should have a child and take on the immense responsibility that is another life? The people who constantly refer to the sanctity of human life apparently have no interest in the logical consequences of their arguments. If abortion is banned, will they take responsibility for the thousands of unwanted or abandoned babies that will result? I doubt it. I suspect that they would shift their sanctimonious attentions onto the mothers who were unable to cope and it would be back to the days of the workhouse before you could say 'I told you so'.
Julie, UK

Men haven't got the right to interfere in an issue that must be exclusively dealt with by the ones who will in fact feel its effects. Women should decide what to do with their bodies and be supported in case they decide to terminate a pregnancy.
Luciano Monteiro, Brazil

Making abortions easier and quicker will not drop the numbers of those using protection by a significant amount as the decision of whether or not to use protection involves other factors such as STDs and is not solely based on pregnancy. Abortion cannot be made any harder until contraceptives are made fail proof and the government can guarantee that any "unwanted" child will be sent to a loving family where they will receive all the care they need. Why can't the so called "pro-life" groups concentrate on resolving the issues faced by today's children in care and/or poverty instead of seeking to aggravate the situation by introducing more innocents to the "care" system
Emily Payne, Scotland

For the UK Government to provide termination of an unborn child 'on demand' demonstrates a gross disregard for human life

John, ex-pat USA
Abortion is never an easy decision, and always is physically painful and traumatic. Having volunteered in an inner city women's health organization, I know that making it more difficult to obtain a safe abortion causes more pain and trauma (and mind you 90% of the time these women are going through this alone, the men who put them in that position couldn't care less). Implying that having a shorter wait for obtaining surgical abortions or the pill will compel women to be more "irresponsible" is sexist and "morally questionable". Anti-choice groups claim to care about the unborn, but apparently don't give a damn about the women themselves, or for that matter, the children of those who choose not to have an abortion, after they're born. No one (especially any male politicians) has any right to tell women what they can do with their bodies ever, under any circumstances.
Eve, USA

Abortion should be ended once and for all

Paul Sheehan, Coventry, England
It is not an issue of a women's right to choose. Terminating a foetus is killing an unborn child. The more sinister aspect is that since the UK has socialised medicine, the government is telling women that it's ok and providing funds from compulsory tax revenues from the British people to kill the unborn. There are circumstances when terminating a pregnancy is morally right but for the UK Government to provide termination of an unborn child "on demand" demonstrates a gross disregard for human life. Since advances in technology can now show women what the foetus looks like at the early stages, the miracle of life will become more apparent to those who callously cast it aside for political purposes.
John, ex-pat USA

Abortion should be ended once and for all, as it is nothing more than infant murder. No woman or any other person has the right to kill a living human being. Life begins in the womb, and anybody who terminates a pregnancy is guilty of murder.
Paul Sheehan, Coventry , England

Anything which causes a careless attitude to contraception is to be avoided - or will this abortion pill also cure venereal diseases and HIV as well?
Derek Blyth, U.K.

Make it more easily available - an unloved child is sadly rarely given a new start through adoption

Martin, Thailand
No-one wants an abortion, it is not a lifestyle choice to get pregnant and get one. First and foremost, we need to educate people on contraception, make it widely available and not a taboo subject. Then, if things go wrong, as they have done with me, the morning after pill should be used. And finally, if all else has failed and there is no other choice an early, non-surgical abortion. Shame we don't live in a perfect world!
Clare Alexander, UK

Let's face it: if a woman wants an abortion, she will get it. Restricting access serves nothing except to put women at risk. I would have done anything to have an abortion but I was fortunate enough to obtain one on the NHS where my treatment was second to none.

As for psychological after effects, my experience was a singular sense of relief, and that feeling remains steadfast almost 10 years later.

Sure, some women may regret their decision, just as some may regret marrying the wrong person, quitting their job, or any number of decisions. However, as a society we must regard women as adults responsible for their own decisions or else we'll slip into the horrific litigation mania that has infested the US.
Anita, UK

Yes, make it more easily available. An unloved child is sadly rarely given a new start through adoption. At the same time we need to educate people that prevention is always better than cure - if you can not abstain, then at least know and use contraception...
Martin, Thailand

I think that anything that makes the whole experience less painful and drawn out for women in the unfortunate position of needing an abortion, is a good thing.

Jen, UK
Why is it always the men who are most outspoken against abortion? At the end of the day, it has very little to do with the man is the woman who has to carry the baby, feed the baby, and care for the baby. All the man did was have a few minutes of fun!

I am the only person on this earth who can decide what is right or wrong for else has the right to do that! At the end of the day, I am pro-choice, but I cannot imagine having an abortion myself - however that does not give me the right to tell others that they can't have an abortion.

I think that anything that makes the whole experience less painful and drawn out for women in the unfortunate position of needing an abortion, is a good thing.
Jen, UK

Jen needs to get into the 21st century - for every man who wants "five minutes of fun" there are plenty who'd like the chance to be a proper father in a proper relationship - even (clap of thunder) a marriage, and never having had the chance to see their child born would also be a hurt to get over. It's very easy to say "woman's body woman's choice" if it's not your child getting aborted.
Ken, England

Having the emergency contraceptive pill widely available encourages young people to engage themselves in unprotected sexual intercourse. Couples should be more precautious and use other forms of contraception rather than kill an innocent unborn child who does not have an option to speak for it self. I strenuously feel that the availability of abortion pill is a ludicrous idea.
oyeda siddiq, England

Women do have the right to choose what they do with their bodies, but taking the life of an innocent other is murder in anyone's language.
Ben m, UK

I'm not a religious person, but I do believe strongly in the sanctity of human life. It's not just a 'woman's issue' as some respondents claim - it's an issue of an individual's right to life. When a society and a government permits the termination of the life of an unborn child for reasons of inconvenience, it is making a serious statement about the value of individual rights. Of course unwanted pregnancies are a huge problem for those concerned, but who really should have the right to deliberately end the life of a fellow human being?
Will Thomas, UK

Women have the right to chose what happens in their bodies - contraception isn't 100% effective. Women need to be able to make informed choices !!
Lucy, UK

Until women can be offered a failsafe method of contraception, abortion should remain available

Alice, London
Although of course, it takes a man and a woman to create a child, it is the mother who must carry that child, and, as is evident, is often left holding the baby. Interesting then that the opponents here to easier access to abortion here are men.

Furthermore, it is vital to consider when discussing the availability and access to abortion, that almost three quarters of women who seek abortions in this country do so not because they have not bothered with contraception, but because it has failed. Until women can be offered a failsafe method of contraception, abortion should remain available -albeit responsibly- to all women.
Alice, London, UK

The issue of abortion should be between a woman and her own conscience. No one else has the right to interfere. I don't like abortion, but who am I to say what another should do with their own body.
Merlin, Czech

Will people even bother to use contraception now that it you can simply take a pill to do away with your unwanted child?

Martyn, UK
I don't believe in abortion, but I don't believe that it is the government's right to decide this issue on our behalf.

The more easily women can access abortions and the less the government is involved in this issue, the better. As a bonus, the women who decide to have abortions would also not have to deal with the protesting crazies at the clinics.
Shawn, Eugene, OR - USA

By making abortion that much more easily available to those that want it, it's an absolute travesty, a slap in the face, for those that cannot have children (for whatever reason). To create a new life and then to take it away so suddenly when other people try for years without success is the ultimate in selfishness.

Will people even bother to use contraception now that it you can simply take a pill to do away with your unwanted child? When teenage pregnancies are still on the rise, this is the worst thing the government can do. Education and better access to contraceptives is the best way forward.
Martyn, UK

In the first place abortion destroys God given human life, and now making the abortion pill more widely accessible, will lead to more abortions which is a great sin in the sight of God. No, No, No to abortion.
Johannes Monteiro, Zimbabwe

Should the abortion pill be more widely available?



1330 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Talking Point stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Talking Point stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |