National Abortion Campaign

  • National Abortion Campaign (1975-2003)
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


This collection comprises administrative records, conferences, publications, press cuttings, and a variety of correspondence from local groups, individuals and trade unions. There is also a large section of campaign material; the National Abortion Campaign fought against proposed Amendments to the Abortion Act during the period 1975-1990.



Physical description

35 boxes


Arranged in Sections A-G as follows:

A Administrative and Organisational records, 1975-1999

B Campaigns and Events, 1975-1990

C Conferences, 1975-1991

D Publications, 1975-2002

E Related Organisations, 1975-1977

F Correspondence, 1975-1990

G Textural Resources, 1975-1985

Acquisition note

A further five boxes of material were donated in 1992 (accession no. 443) and another two boxes of material in 2003 (accession no. 1175) when the National Abortion Campaign merged with the Abortion Law Reform Association to form Abortion Rights.

Biographical note

The National Abortion Campaign (NAC) was formed in 1975 and the group defended the Abortion Act 1967 against several proposed amendment bills during the 1970s and 1980s. There were several local and smaller groups across the country. The group was managed by the Steering Committee, and at the National Planning Meetings policy decisions were made and any national activity work was initiated. There was also a yearly National Conference where the aims and structure of the group could be changed.

The group initially started when the Working Women's Charter called a demonstration against the James White Abortion Amendment Bill in February 1975. This Bill wanted to restrict the reasons why a woman could get an abortion and change which doctors could perform one. The demonstration was a success and the campaign was set up officially the following month. By June 1975 NAC was able to organise a large demonstration which was attended by 20,000 people, the biggest rally since the women's suffrage campaign. The James White Bill was never passed and NAC campaigned against another two more Abortion Amendment Bills by MPs in the 1970s; one in 1977 by William Benyon and the other in 1979 by John Corrie. Large demonstrations and events were organised against them by NAC, locally and on a larger national scale. The group had support from several branches of Trade Unions, and from several MPS; including Jo Richardson (1923-1994) who spoke at several conferences and demonstrations.

NAC also helped to establish the Labour Abortion Rights Campaign (LARC) in 1976, the two groups were separate organisations but they shared membership and worked closely together. LARC worked more closely with trade union groups and political parties. NAC also helped to establish the International Contraception, Abortion and Sterilisation Campaign (ICASC) in 1978 so there could be more of an international movement.

During the 1980s NAC fought several campaigns. In 1981 the notification form that doctors complete when a woman has an abortion was changed by the Department of Health. This resulted in several doctors almost being prosecuted for deliberately filling out the forms incorrectly (so technically they were performing an abortion illegally) so NAC organised a campaign in their defence, and the charges were eventually dropped. Later that same year Jo Richardson introduced a Facilities Bill to hopefully improve NHS abortion facilities, however the Bill did not receive enough votes for a second reading. In 1983 at the National Conference the group split into two: one continued as NAC and the other formed as the Women's Reproductive Rights Campaign. Eighteen months later NAC started the Reverse Gillick campaign, this was against the High Court ruling (instigated by mother of ten, Victoria Gillick in 1983) that children under 16 could not be prescribed or talk to doctors about contraceptives without their parents knowledge. The House of Lords overruled this in 1985, as long as doctors followed certain guidelines when discussing contraceptives with young people.

Another Abortion Amendment Bill was introduced in the late 1980s; by the MP David Alton, and this focused on changing the time limit. This Bill got a large amount of support and several adverts were printed in national newspapers by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) asking MPs to vote yes. NAC again held several large demonstrations and eventually the Bill failed. NAC also campaigned against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in 1990. This was passed and it mainly concerned the regulation of fertility treatments but the Abortion Act was also effected: the time limits were reduced from 28 to 24 weeks.

In 2003 NAC merged with the Abortion Law Reform Association (ALRA) to form Abortion Rights, more information can be found on their website: Abortion Rights

Related material

At Wellcome Collection:

Readers interested in the subject of abortion will also find relevant material in the following collections: The Abortion Law Reform Association (SA/ALR), Family Planning Association archives (SA/FPA), records of the Joint Committee of Midwifery abortion survey in the archives of the National Birthday Trust Fund (SA/NBT/S), records of the Birth Control Campaign (SA/BCC) and Birth Control Trust (SA/BCT).


There are some prints and photos of NAC demonstrations and similar material concerning abortion in the Women's Library, London.

Terms of use

This collection has been catalogued and is available to library members. Some items have access restrictions which are explained in the item-level catalogue records.


Some abbreviations used in the catalogue:

ALRA, Abortion Law Reform Association
BPAS, British Pregnancy Advisory Service
DFWCA, Doctors for a Woman's Choice on Abortion
ICASC, International Contraception, Abortion and Sterilisation Campaign
LARC, Labour Abortion Rights Campaign
NAC, National Abortion Campaign
SPUC, Society for the Protection of Unborn Children
TULC, Trade Union Liaison Committee
WRRC, Women's Reproductive Rights Campaign

Ownership note

In 1989 the National Abortion Campaign donated ten boxes of material to the Fawcett Library (now the Women's Library) and these were transferred to the Wellcome Library in 1992 (accession no. 409).

Permanent link


Accession number

  • 409
  • 443
  • 1175
  • 1963