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Marie Stopes International reaffirms support for 24-week abortion limit

Contrary to assertions on Nadine Dorries' campaign website Marie Stopes International (MSI) does NOT favour a reduction of the abortion time limit. We hereby reaffirm our continued and unyielding support for 24 weeks and respect for the needs and rights of women to access abortion at later gestation.

"Later abortions are extremely rare - less than two per cent of the total - but sometimes desperately needed by a small number of women facing complex personal circumstances," said Anne Quesney, Head of Advocacy at MSI. "We believe that these women should be trusted to make the decision and deserve our support. A reduction of the time limit for abortion would have no impact on the number of abortions - 90 per cent of which are carried out at under 12 weeks - but would create demand for illegal and self-induced abortions and put vulnerable women's lives at risk."

Arguments to reduce the 24 week limit are mostly unsubstantiated. They fly in the face of all recent scientific evidence and medical / professional recommendations in the field of sexual reproductive health.

. Time limit: the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing all strongly favour upholding the current time limit.
. Foetal survival: the recent EPIcure II study showed that viability of a foetus before 24 weeks had not significantly increased in the last 10 years.
. Foetal pain: the general medical consensus is that a foetus does not feel pain before at least 26 weeks simply because the neurological development necessary to feel pain has not developed until then.

Abortion is a complex issue which deserves serious consideration. No self respecting politician should wage a parliamentary campaign that will impact so fundamentally on women's lives simply because they have a 'feeling it's wrong'.

Amendments to reduce the upper limit for abortions are expected to be tabled by MPs as part of the Human Tissue and Embryology Bill, which is due for its second reading in the House of Commons on May 12th. Votes will take place later this month.

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact Tony Kerridge (020 7034 2365), Diana Thomas (020 7034 2317) or Anna Mawer (020 7034 2307) at the Marie Stopes International press office.

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