21 May 2008
Following the outcome of the Parliamentary debate on the upper limit of abortion in the UK, Marie Stopes International issues the following statement:
STATEMENT BY MARIE STOPES INTERNATIONAL FOLLOWING LAST NIGHT'S HOUSE OF COMMONS VOTE TO RETAIN THE ABORTION TIME LIMIT
Last night's vote to retain the 24 week time limit spells relief for women across the country. It is reassuring that a majority of MPs were wise to the emotive and misleading campaign that sought to chip away at women’s reproductive rights, and disregarded it in exercising their votes.
The case for reducing the time limit on abortion derived from a minority religious lobby and had been deceptively based upon both the notion that there are ‘too many abortions’ in the UK and also to the issue of foetal viability. In fact the number of women who have abortions between 20 and 24 weeks amounts to less than 2% of the total, meaning a reduction in the time limit would have a negligible effect upon total numbers. Furthermore, the medical establishment has remained united in refuting the notion that foetuses are now ‘more viable’ below 24 weeks than before. Tonight MPs defeated a series of anti-choice amendments echoing medical consensus.
MPs’ views are also in line with the majority of British women of reproductive age – 61% of whom said there are circumstances in which they think a woman should have the right to access an abortion between 20 and 24 weeks. The survey, published ahead of the vote by Ipsos MORI on behalf of Marie Stopes International, showed that women were sympathetic to their peers accessing a later abortion.
The potential circumstances listed were:
The foetus is diagnosed with severe abnormalities
She was raped
The pregnancy places her own health at risk
She has an abusive partner
She was delayed by her doctor
She did not realise earlier that she was pregnant
She is young and has been in denial of pregnancy signs
Her partner has left her during the pregnancy
“Having secured this victory for common sense, compassion towards women’s needs and sound medical science, it’s now time to look forward to the next stage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill,” said Marie Stopes International’s Head of Advocacy, Anne Quesney.
“We expect to see progressive amendments introduced that will improve current legislation, not least the removal of the archaic requirement for two doctors to give permission before any abortion may be performed.”