Tuesday, May 20, 2008

New Survey of British Women's Attitudes to Abortion Published Today

New survey of British women’s attitudes to abortion published today

Sixty-one per cent of British women of child bearing age say there are circumstances in which they think a woman should have the right to access an abortion between 20 and 24 weeks.

When presented with a list of potential circumstances (see below), six out of 10 (61%) British women aged 18-49 say there are certain situations in which they think a woman should have the right to access an abortion between 20 and 24 weeks, according to findings from an independent survey carried out by Ipsos MORI on behalf of Marie Stopes International.

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 realised earlier that she was pregnant
She is young and has been in denial of pregnancy signs
Her partner has left her during the pregnancy

Only four percent of respondents both supported a woman’s right of access to an abortion yet also felt there were no grounds for abortion between 20 and 24 weeks: An outcome unlikely to be welcomed by those – including Nadine Dorries, MP - who seek to remove the right to abortion between 20 and 24 weeks under any circumstances.

19% answered that they disagreed that, in general, all women should have the right of access to an abortion, 57% agreed and 24% were neutral, or answered that they did not know or preferred not to answer.

The survey of 1,032 British women is released to coincide with today’s vote on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in the House of Commons, which includes a number of amendments seeking to reduce the limit for abortions from 24 weeks to as low as 12 weeks.

Marie Stopes International strongly urges MPs to give their full support to British women and vote to retain the 24 week limit for abortion when they cast their free vote on the amendments later today.

“The danger is that some MPs may abstain, rather than engage in this difficult and emotive issue,” said Anne Quesney, Head of Advocacy at Marie Stopes International, the UK’s largest independent provider of abortion services.

“But an abstention is tantamount to a vote for a reduction, which will deny some of the most vulnerable women access to a desperately needed service.

“Later abortions are extremely rare, less than two per cent of the total. As a society we should be supporting women through this difficult time, rather than forcing them into motherhood against their will, making them seek out illegal or unsafe practices or travel abroad to access later abortion services.

“The entire medical establishment and all recent scientific and medical research have endorsed the call to retain the 24 week limit on abortion. Now we have a similar clear endorsement from those who will be most adversely affected by any reduction in the limit – women themselves.”

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