British Pro-Life Group Wants Abortion Debate Dropped to Focus on Cloning Bill

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 1, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Pro-Life Group Wants Abortion Debate Dropped to Focus on Cloning Bill

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 1
, 2008

London, England ( — A leading pro-life group in England says it hopes pro-life organizations and MPs will drop attempts to include an amendment to limit abortions to a bill that advances human cloning. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children says it will be hard enough to defeat the cloning bill.

Some pro-life MPs and groups have been hoping to attach an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) bill that would limit late-term abortions.

They are currently allowed on healthy unborn children up to 24 weeks into pregnancy even though babies can survive a premature birth before that. Lawmakers are looking to drop the abortion limit to 20 weeks.

But John Smeaton, the director of SPUC, says no amendments may come up and he pointed out that Lord David Steel, the author of the 1967 abortion law, is asking colleagues to reject any amendment to limit abortions.

He says some pro-life advocates have misinterpreted Steel’s supposed regret that there are now too many abortions.

He also rejected calls from Professor Stuart Campbell, who produced the "walking in the womb" 3-D ultrasound images, who said today he supports the late-term abortion limits but wants to expand abortions earlier in pregnancy.

"It really is time for the idea of trying to restrict abortion via the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill to be dropped," Smeaton said.

"Even if a nominal adjustment to the current 24-week threshold (which applies only to one clause in the Abortion Act) were to be agreed by Parliament, this would almost certainly be accompanied by a widening of the grounds for abortion before, and possibly after, that new threshold," he explained.

"Introducing amendments aimed at restricting abortion will not only fail, but will simply increase the pressure upon the government and those as yet uncommitted parliamentarians to support an ‘updating’ of the abortion law … that will result in the law increasing the number of abortions," Smeaton said.

Smeaton urged pro-life groups to rally together to urge the public and MPs to oppose the HFE human cloning bill.

"Those motivated by pro-life concerns already have their work cut out for them opposing the HFE Bill and defeating the [expected] pro-abortion amendments," he said.