British Doctors Oppose Higher Limits on Late-Term Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 30, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Doctors Oppose Higher Limits on Late-Term Abortions Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 30, 2005

Washington, DC ( — British doctors have voted against a plan to reduce the legal time limit for abortion in the UK.

Seventy-seven percent of doctors at the British Medical Association conference in Manchester said they would not support any reduction in the 24-week limit on late-term abortions. Given the fact that some premature babies are able to survive at ever younger ages, some pro-life activists have called for the limit to at least be lowered from 24 to 20 weeks.

The British physicians indicated that late abortions were distressing, but would be acceptable if the pregnancy were detected late or the baby were handicapped.

In 2003, 181,600 abortions were performed on women living in England and Wales, with 9,100 on non-residents, such as women from Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Eighty-seven percent of the abortions were carried out at less than 13 weeks gestation.

Chief executive Ann Furedi said, “Women seek late abortion reluctantly, because they believe it is the ‘least worst’ option they can take. A reduction in the legal time limit will not end the need for late abortion. If the time limit is lowered some women will be forced to become unwilling mothers. Others will travel abroad for legal abortion in other countries.”

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the pro-life group known as LIFE said, “Our message to doctors would be that it is a sensible proposal to reduce the time limit for abortion in line with advances that have been made.”

However, other pro-life activists are worried the drive to strengthen limits on abortions could backfire.

Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children said a review of the abortion laws by MPs could result in a relaxation of the rules and an increase in abortions. Instead, Tully supports a debate on the moral issues of performing abortions.

John Smeaton, SPUC’s National Director, said, “The pro-life movement walked into a trap set by the then Conservative government and the pro-abortion lobby in 1990 when most people wrongly think that the upper limit for abortion was lowered. The fact is that it rose to 24 weeks for most abortions, and up to birth in some cases. SPUC is certain that the same sort of danger applies today.”

Smeaton added, “Legislative proposals to lower the upper limit for abortions are a trap to ensnare the pro-life movement in order to legalize a right to abortion in the early months of pregnancy, and to maintain access to abortion up to birth where a baby is disabled…”

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