RCN launches member survey on decriminalisation of termination of pregnancy

The RCN is launching a UK-wide survey of its members on the principle of removing criminal sanctions from termination of pregnancy.

The online survey, which will run from Friday 16 February to Sunday 18 March 2018, will help the RCN to form a position on decriminalisation.

Currently, termination of pregnancy is legal in England, Scotland and Wales, within certain criteria that must be agreed by two doctors. Without this agreement, termination is a criminal offence which could result in a prison sentence. In Northern Ireland, termination of pregnancy is illegal except in very limited cases.


There is growing debate about removing criminal sanctions from termination of pregnancy. Currently, the RCN does not have a position on decriminalisation. The College is committed to developing a position so that it can contribute to the debate.

The survey will not consult on the wider issues around termination of pregnancy, including the arguments for or against the procedure. The RCN is not calling for any change to gestational limits or changes to the right to conscientious objection by health care professionals.

There are different ways in which termination of pregnancy could be decriminalised but the survey will only focus on the principle of whether or not it should be removed from criminal law.

Commenting on the survey launch, Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said:

“Decriminalisation is an important issue for today’s society to consider and one the College is committed to having a position on.

“As the largest nursing organisation in the United Kingdom, we wish to understand the views of our members.

“I encourage all RCN members to complete the survey to help us inform our position.”

You can take part in the survey hereResponses to this survey will not be shared publically and RCN membership numbers will be removed before the results are analysed so that views cannot be attributed to individual members.

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