British Lawmakers Move Closer to Debate on Limiting Late-Term Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 3, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Lawmakers Move Closer to Debate on Limiting Late-Term Abortions Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 3, 2006

London, England ( — British lawmakers are moving closer to having a debate in parliament over whether to change England’s abortion law and limit late-term abortions. Currently, abortions can be done through the 24th week of pregnancy, but pro-life groups and religious leaders have called on members of parliament to change that.

New limits on abortions have not been considered since 1990, but more than 60 MPs have signed onto a motion in the British House of Commons backing a review of the law.

Some of the lawmakers say that medical technology allows people to see that the unborn child is deserving of more protection thanks to ultrasound imaging that reveals the baby’s incredible development.

Health Minister Caroline Flint recently said the abortion issue would not be revisited, but she admits parliament has the ultimate decision on changing British law.

Science and technology committee chair Phil Willis told the BBC that parliament should look at the abortion law and Lib Dem spokesman Evan Harris agreed there should be a debate because a baby is now viable at 24 weeks into pregnancy.

"I don’t know the answer and I think Parliament should have the opportunity to see the science before advancing," Harris told the BBC.

"After 16 years since this was last looked at, isn’t it time to actually examine the science, to examine the technology and to put that in an objective way in front of parliament?" he said.

"I think this is an issue which commands a huge amount of interest and it is up to government to actually take a lead on this."

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley also agrees a debate should occur and he’s called for a free vote in parliament.

Last month, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, called on the British government to lower the limit on how late abortions can be done, but Flint said Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government would not do that.

About 185,000 abortions are done annually in Britain and 124 were done at 24 weeks of pregnancy in 2004.