Call for expert working group on decriminalisation of abortion accepted by Scottish Government

Abortion care in Scotland is in urgent need of modernisation, with the current framework acting as a drag on services and as a barrier to timely access. In June we wrote to the First Minister on abortion rights, alongside 16 other equalities, abortion and health organisations. In the letter, we welcomed the commitments made on the leadership campaign trail and called for creation of an expert working group on decriminalisation of abortion.

We are delighted that this suggestion has been accepted by Scottish Government. We now look forward to sharing how women in Scotland can feed into the review of current structures, and to Humza Yousaf’s commitment on decriminalisation being set out in this year’s Programme for Government. Read the letter and see a list of signatories below.

The graphic shows a light grey background with black left-aligned text quote that reads "Abortion care in Scotland is in urgent need of modernisation, with the current framework acting as a drag on services and as a barrier to timely access."

Dear First Minister,

We hope this letter finds you well and congratulate you on your appointment as First Minister of Scotland.

During your leadership campaign, we welcomed your commitments to protecting and advancing abortion rights. The implementation of nationwide buffer zones, consistent provision of abortion care for all that need it, and removal of abortion from the criminal justice system are vital elements of modern abortion healthcare in Scotland. We also need action to tackle growing capacity gaps across services, to ensure equality of access to person-centred abortion care, and to ensure that NHS staff are working in fully equipped and well-resourced services.

Steady progress has been made regarding abortion in recent years. The NHS Scottish Abortion Care Providers Group has worked closely with Scottish Government to advance commitments set out in the Women’s Health Plan, including early medical abortion at home, telemedical care, and improved provision of mid-term abortions across the country.

We now look forward to further progress under your leadership, and to working with the Scottish Government and Women’s Health Champion towards delivery of your commitments. We are aware that Scottish Government already has regular engagement with the NHS Scottish Abortion Care Providers Group, which will, of course, continue to be invaluable. Building on your commitment to move forward decriminalisation of abortion, we believe that an expert working group would be of assistance to Scottish Government Ministers on this topic, and would welcome the opportunity to discuss this further.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Yours sincerely,

Abortion Rights Scotland

Back Off Scotland

British Pregnancy Advisory Service

Close the Gap


Equality Network

Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health

Humanist Society

NUS Scotland

Rape Crisis Scotland

Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Scottish Trade Unions Congress

Scottish Trans

Scottish Women’s Aid

Scottish Women's Budget Group

Young Women’s Movement

Zero Tolerance

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