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RCOG condemns use of emotive language to restrict abortion access

News 1 July 2019

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has joined a coalition of reproductive health organisations, including FIGO (International Federation Gynecology and Obstetrics), the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Marie Stopes International (MSI) and Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) to demand media organisations stop using the phrase “heartbeat bill” in their coverage of attempts in some US states to introduce six-week abortion bans.

Professor Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), said:

“The RCOG condemns the emotive “heartbeat bill” language being used by anti-abortion lobbyists because it is not a medically accurate term – there is no heartbeat at six weeks gestation.

“We commend the media outlets around the world who are making a stand against using this medically inaccurate language to describe legislation which is being introduced in some US states to restrict women’s access to abortion by introducing a “six-week abortion ban”.

“We are disappointed that the BBC refuses to stop using this inflammatory and emotive language which is factually incorrect. Propagating language which aims to restrict access to abortion puts women’s health and lives at risk. We know that sanctions do not deter women from seeking abortion, but drives them to unsafe treatments or forces them to travel to access help.”

Note to Editors

For media enquiries please contact the RCOG press office on +44 (0)20 7045 6773 or email