Nadine Dorries MP will on Tuesday launch the official parliamentary campaign to reduce the upper limit for abortion from 24 weeks to 20 weeks when the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill is debated in the Commons later this month.
Nadine will be supported by consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Vincent Argent, former medical Director of BPAS, and Dr Peter Saunders, General Secretary of the Christian Medical Fellowship at a launch press conference at the Commons. Ultrasound pioneer Professor Stuart Campbell will also be backing her campaign.
Nadine will publish a briefing paper, ’20 Reasons for 20 Weeks’ outlining the case for cutting the present 24-week limit to 20 weeks.
Nadine will also unveil a new website www.the20weekscampaign.org dedicated to maximising public and parliamentary support for a sensible updating of the law, bringing it into line with advances wrought by modern medical science.
Nadine, who plans to table an amendment to the HFE Bill reducing the limit to 20 weeks, will say:
"Britain has 200,000 abortions a year or 600 a day. That is just too many. We must slow down on abortion.
"I respect a woman’s right to choose. But we are close to being the abortion capital of the world and it is now time to adopt a more moderate, commonsense approach to abortion.
"No one envisaged such a tally when abortion was legalised 40 years ago. There were 86,000 abortions a year in 1970 and 200,000 now. Abortion is now being used as a form of contraception. It is time to send a new signal about abortion, a less casual message, bringing Britain into line with the rest of Europe.
"With an increasing number of babies surviving at 24 weeks or below, we now have the absurd situation where doctors are battling to save premature babies in one part of the hospital and ending life in another part at exactly the same point of gestation."
Dr Argent, a former medical director of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, who carries out abortions, will say:
"I fully support and I am right behind Nadine’s 20 week campaign. I support a woman’s right to choose but I consider that this should be balanced by the majority public view about the unborn child."
Nadine will highlight some of the 20 reasons for 20 weeks:
Public, parliamentary and medical opinion is changing on late abortion. 63 per cent of MPs, two thirds of GPs, nearly two thirds of the public and more than three-quarters of women support a reduction in the 24-week upper age limit.
High profile cases of babies surviving well below 24 weeks like Manchester’s Millie McDonagh, born at 22 weeks, and the world’s most premature baby, Amillia Taylor , who was born a week younger, both in October 2006.
In the best neonatal units, such as in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 80 per cent of babies born at 24 weeks and 66 per cent of babies born at 23 weeks will survive. A recent study from University College London has confirmed these data in a UK context and showed that the level of disability in premature babies is much less than is commonly believed.
Recent research, such as that by Professor Sunny Anand from the University of Arkansas, has shown that foetuses are well enough developed to feel pain down to 18 weeks gestation.
Stories of babies born alive after botched abortions, as young as 16 weeks, are increasingly common and have understandably shocked the public.
The number of abortions carried out between 20 and 24 weeks has been rising in recent years. Lowering the limit to 20 weeks will save over 3,000 young lives per year.
Britain has the most liberal abortion laws in Europe. A termination can be obtained up to 24 weeks of pregnancy – double the limits in France and Germany and six weeks later than in Sweden or Norway.
Works for me.