A study carried out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and released today concludes that the human foetus cannot feel pain before 24 weeks gestation, so there is no reason to change the current abortion limit.
The UK's leading sexual health charity Marie Stopes International issues the following statement.
"Marie Stopes International welcomes the publication of this landmark piece of research from one of the most respected and authoritative institutions in global health. The RCOG's findings should give comfort and reassurance to any woman who finds herself in the extremely distressing position of having to make the decision to terminate a pregnancy at a later gestation.
"Later abortions are extremely rare. In 2009, for example, abortions above 20 weeks gestation represented just 1.47% of the total carried out in England and Wales, less than 3,000 cases. Of these, only 1,230 cases (0.65%) were performed at 22 weeks or over. Later abortion are carried for the most compelling reasons, such as severe foetal abnormality, risk to the health or life of the mother, or following a drastic change in the personal circumstances of the woman involved.
"It is vitally important to protect a woman's right to access abortion services and British law rightly recognises this principle. The findings of the RCOG's study only serve to reinforce the case for maintaining the 24 week time limit.''
All quotations in this media release are attributable to Anne Quesney, Marie Stopes International's Policy and Parliamentary Advisor.
Further information: Tony Kerridge - 020 7034 2365 / 07748 948037
Katya Nasim - 020 7034 2389