This coming Wednesday morning, in Westminster Hall, I shall be leading a debate to reduce the upper limit at which abortion takes place and will be making the case for those babies which are aborted for social reasons, ie, relationship breakdown, job change etc to be limited to twenty weeks. My proposal does not include foetal abnormality – that will remain a discussion between doctors and parents. However, it hurts to exclude those babies, as for me personally, a baby with Downs or any disability is as precious as any baby without. The existing legal provision provides for abortion up until birth for foetal abnormality and so problems picked up on the twenty week scan are not affected. If the recent Paralympics can’t change the attitude of society towards babies with disabilities, I don’t stand a chance,
The last time the abortion limit was debated was in May 2008 when I laid down an amendment to the HT and Embryology Bill, and called for a vote to reduce from twenty four weeks. That was defeated.
I was then, and am still now, constantly amazed at how those MPs who pertain to be pro-choice and pro-women, consistently ignore the rights of vulnerable women and appear to have actively taken the decision that, as they assume many women know exactly what they are doing when they have an abortion, the rights of the more vulnerable should be ignored. However, I shall deal with that during my speech.
Diane Abbott, the shadow Minister most vocal on this issue on behalf of the Labour party, frequently quotes the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists guideline committee as being supportive of the twenty four week limit, however, she will no doubt fail to mention that the majority of the people who sit on the committee earn their living courtesy of the abortion industry.
I hope she will have read the words of Dr Max Pemberton who recently wrote in The Daily Telegraph:
‘Many doctors are actually uncomfortable with the current cut off point – it is not something we openly discuss, because we know it is a highly emotive area. But privately, many doctors will express discomfort that the current legislation is inherently illogical and inconsistent. Any doctor who has found themselves in the neonatal intensive care unit of a hospital will be acutely aware of it. In the same hospital where a doctor is trying to save a premature baby born at say, 23 weeks, a woman down the corridor is legally allowed to undergo a later stage abortion on a foetus of the same gestation. So, on the one hand we throw considerable money and resources to try and save a baby’s life, while on the other we sanction its destruction."
This is an argument I have consistently made for the last six years.
The medical profession cannot make two arguments. Doctors cannot say a poorly baby is worth trying to save from 21 weeks onwards – whilst at the same time stating that there is no chance of life before twenty four weeks so it is ok to abort up to that point.
If there is an insistence on retaining twenty four weeks, then should there be a case to say that doctors should not try to save a poorly baby’s life which is born before twenty four weeks gestation thereby bringing both limits into line? Could you imagine the public outcry if we proposed that due to the viability argument, we legislate not to attempt to save prem babies before twenty four weeks?
For those who wish to make the argument of viability in favour of retention of the upper limit, and that only a small percentage of those born before twenty four weeks survive, I would argue this:
We cannot and never will be able to make a case for viability. Those babies which are born prematurely are poorly babies. They are already ill and the NHS are not only trying to treat the fact that they have arrived early, but also whatever it was which caused that to happen.
Aborted babies are healthy babies. Unless we start asking women to volunteer to deliver their babies from twenty weeks onwards and then try to save them when they arrive, we will never know how a healthy baby fares when the NHS throws everything it has in order to try and help it live.
But of course, when opposers lose the viability argument they resort to the ‘a woman has a right to choose’ argument. I agree, she has. I support quick and easy access to abortion. But there does reach a point when the right to the life of a baby takes precedence over that of the mother’s right to choose. Provocatively, I would like to add to those who push the feminism angle, especially when that baby is female.
Having witnessed a number of late term abortions I would like to finish with the stark reality of what it means to both the mother and the baby.
The abortion method alters at twenty weeks onwards. The baby has to have its life terminated in utero with a lethal injection into the heart. Ironically. this is to prevent it being delivered alive.
The injection is delivered in through the mother’s abdominal wall into the baby’s heart and this process is undertaken via a sensor scanner, a bit like an X-ray, to help the doctor to guide the needle into the right place.
As soon as that needle enters through the wall of the womb, the baby, if not already awake, wakes up. It becomes alarmed and thrashes about. This causes the mother huge distress, as many are unaware that this happens.
This could be one of the reasons why the doctors union, the BMA, voted to support my debate last year to provide independent, non-compulsory counselling to women seeking an abortion.
As Diane Abbott is fond of saying ‘we should listen to the doctors’ – one would have hoped she would have listened to them.
In Germany, they perform half as many abortions as we do. Across Europe, the average upper limit is thirteen weeks.
It’s time to become a civilised nation and agree to a rational debate. It’s time to change.