The Royal College of Nursing has said it officially supports the decriminalisation of termination of pregnancy legislation, after its members signalled the move earlier this year.
It has this week published a position statement supporting the principle of decriminalisation of termination of pregnancy legislation and the removing of criminal sanctions.
“Nurses have signalled our support for the decriminalisation of termination”
The college said its future work on the issue of abortion would consider how any legislation affected the care given by those in the nursing workforce.
The RCN said that its statement honoured a “commitment” to its nursing members in the wake of a survey in May.
The survey found the “majority” of those who responded – 3,000 members – “signalled support” for the movement, as previously reported by Nursing Times.
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In its statement, the RCN said it believes the termination of pregnancy should be treated the same as any other medical procedure and should be regulated in the same way all clinical procedures are.
The college claimed the process of decimalisation should be based on the best evidence available and in accordance with relevant professional standards.
Any movement towards decriminalisation would require robust, regulatory and quality monitoring processes, noted the RCN, to protect the rights of women to access free, safe and effective services, it added.
The college said the latest statement reaffirmed its future work related to the termination of pregnancy legislation.
It said its ongoing work included influencing developments around changes to the legislation and to ensure quality monitoring processes are embedded within any changes to current laws.
“Our members have helped inform our position on this important issue for the nursing profession”
In addition, the RCN are also working to scope current education and training needs across the nursing workforce to articulate support for termination of pregnancy services, noted the college.
Enhancing current guidelines on conscientious objection issues in consideration of members who would not support decriminalisation is also part of its agenda, the RCN added.
The RCN highlighted that it had not called for any change to gestational limits or change to the right to conscientious objection by health care professionals.
In 2013, the college claimed it recognised woman’s rights in choosing how to deal with a planned or unplanned pregnancy.
It added that it was committed to supported nursing staff in the area provide safe, quality care but nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants may conscientiously object.
Bronagh Scott, the RCN’s director of nursing, policy and practice, said: “Nurses have signalled our support for the decriminalisation of termination of pregnancy legislation, as long as regulatory and quality monitoring processes are in place to protect the rights of women.
“Our members have helped inform our position on this important issue for the nursing profession and this statement honours our commitment to them,” she said.
“The RCN’s future work on this issue will consider now how this legislation impacts on the care given by nurses, midwives and other health care practitioners,” she added.