Abortion rights group welcomes no change to 24 week limit

Campaign group, Abortion Rights, has welcomed the vote last night by MPs to keep the time limit for abortion at 24 weeks.

Campaign co-ordinator, Louise Hutchins, called the vote “a huge victory for women overall”, stating she was “very pleased politicians listened to the needs of women”.

Speaking to politics.co.uk, Ms Hutchins said: “This was not a bill about time limits it was about chipping away at abortion altogether.

“I think this should be the limit of anti-abortion attacks but obviously the anti-abortion lobby that has been driving the debate won’t give up so we must ensure we contiue to campaign to protect women’s rights”

In response to the growing number of women having multiple abortions, Hutchins said that better sexual health education was required paritcularly in schools and that any serious attempt to reduce the number of abortions in the UK would not focus on the two per cent of women that have abortions beyond 20 weeks.

Calls for a reduction to 22 weeks were defeated by 304 to 233 votes. Votes for a lower limit were rejected by gradually expanded margins.

A campaign had been fought to lower the limit on the basis that medical research has advanced to the extent that babies born before 24 weeks have a greater chance of survival.

But a number of medical professionals and groups disputed this, saying babies have extremely small chances of surviving at this stage.

The vote came as part of attempts to update legislation on reproduction issues under the human fertilisation and embryology bill.

Sexual and reproductive group Marie Stopes welcomed the outcome, describing it as a “relief for women across the country”.

“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.”

Family Planning Association (FPA) chief executive Julie Bentley said she was “delighted” MPs decided to maintain the current abortion limit.

“Cutting the time limit, even by a few weeks, would have directly contradicted medical and scientific evidence on fetal viability and would only have exacerbated the desperation of the small percentage of women needing later abortion. MPs have reached the right decision,” she added.