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RCN survey on decriminalisation of termination of pregnancy

We’ve launched a survey to gather your views on the principle of removing criminal sanctions associated with termination of pregnancy. 

This is also commonly known as decriminalisation of abortion.

We do not currently have a position on decriminalisation. We’re committed to developing a position so that we can contribute to the debate.

As an RCN member, you can help to inform our position by completing this short survey.

Take the survey

Please note, there are different ways in which termination of pregnancy could be decriminalised. This survey does not seek your opinions on this – only the principle of removing criminal sanctions.

We are not consulting on the wider issues of termination of pregnancy, including the arguments for or against the procedure, nor are we calling for any change to gestational limits or change to the right to conscientious objection by health care professionals.

You can read the RCN’s current position statement on termination of pregnancy.

Responses to this survey will not be shared publicly and RCN membership numbers will be removed before the results are analysed so that views cannot be attributed to individual members.

The survey will close at 11pm on Sunday 18 March 2018. It should take no more than five minutes to complete. Responses are limited to one per RCN membership number.

The results of the survey will inform work by a panel of RCN staff and members to agree a position statement. The position statement will be published on the RCN website.

If you have any questions about the survey, please contact

What is termination of pregnancy?

Termination of pregnancy is the medical process of ending a pregnancy so it doesn’t result in the birth of a baby. It is also commonly known as therapeutic or induced abortion. A pregnancy may be terminated using medication or through a surgical procedure.

Terminations can only be carried out in an NHS hospital or a licensed clinic, if the circumstances meet the current laws.

What is decriminalisation?

Decriminalisation is best understood as removing specific criminal sanctions associated with termination of pregnancy.

According to the British Medical Association, decriminalisation “at the very basic level… involves changing the default position so that instead of [termination of pregnancy] being a crime for which there are some circumstances in which [it] is lawful, [termination of pregnancy] would be lawful with some limited exceptions, such as where the procedure is undertaken on a woman who has capacity without her consent."