British MP Re-Launches Effort to Scale Back Late-Term Abortions to 20 Weeks

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 6, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British MP Re-Launches Effort to Scale Back Late-Term Abortions to 20 Weeks

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 6
, 2008

London, England ( — A leading member of the British Parliament has re-launched her effort to scale back the limit on late-term abortions from 24 weeks to 20 weeks into pregnancy. The campaign by Nadine Dorries comes as one leading pro-life group worries it will complicate efforts to defeat the pro-human cloning bill.

Dorries says she worries Britain is becoming the "abortion capital" of Europe and she says the government needs to send a "less casual message" to young women not to be so cavalier about sex and abortion.

The MP is proposing an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill that parliament is debating which would pave the way for human cloning and research involving hybrids.

"It is now time to adopt a more moderate, commonsense approach to abortion," she told the BBC. "Britain has 200,000 abortions a year, or 600 a day. That is just too many, we must slow down on abortion."

Health Secretary Alan Johnson indicated the ruling Labour government opposes the amendment but indicated MPs would be given a free vote on it later this month.

Some pro-life groups in England support the effort to reduce late-term abortions, but the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, which also opposed abortion, says it will be hard enough to defeat the cloning bill without fighting an abortion battle as well.

As reported, John Smeaton, the director of SPUC, 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 recently 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.