Abortion Law Reform in Britain in the 1960s — What were the Issues Then?

  • Madeleine Simms


David Steel introduced the Abortion Bill into Parliament in the summer of 1966. It passed into law on 27 October 1967 and came into effect on 27 April 1968. What were the issues in the 1960s that motivated us to embark on the long campaign for reform? There were two major considerations — the prevention of handicap, and social justice. Few people at that period thought of anything as unrealizable and extravagant as ‘A Woman’s Right To Choose’. That came many years later. People sometimes forget that abortion law reform preceded the Women’s Movement. In fact I think to some extent the Women’s Movement in this country derived a lot of impetus from the campaign for abortion law reform.


Burning Syringe Thalidomide Reformer Pregnan 


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  1. 1.
    Keith Hindell and Madeleine Simms, Abortion Law Reformed, London, Peter Owen, 1971, p. 59.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    NSPCC, Childhood Matters, NSPCC, London, HMSO, 1996.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    A. Jenkins, Law for the Rich, London, Gollancz, 1960.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    Moya Woodside, ‘Attitudes of Women Abortionists’, Howard Journal of Penology and Crime Prevention, XI, No. 2, 1963, 93–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Madeleine Simms, David Paintin and Dilys Cossey 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Madeleine Simms
    • 1
  1. 1.Abortion Law Reform AssociationNew Zealand

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