By Hilary White

LONDON, March 27, 2008 ( – The so-called “viability limit” of 24 weeks for legal abortion in Britain has come under question since Department of Health data have shown that hundreds of children survive being born below this limit. In 2005 alone, 909 children were born in Britain between 22 and 24 weeks gestation. Of those, 250 survived for at least a year, the Telegraph reports.

Meanwhile, Britain’s foremost pro-life group, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) maintains that politically, efforts to lower the age limit for abortion would backfire, leaving virtually no restrictions on early term abortions, which comprise the great majority of “terminations” in Britain. Of the 201,173 abortions in England and Wales in 2006, only 1,262 were at 22 weeks or more.

Data for births in England and Wales obtained by David Amess, a pro-life Conservative MP, showed that eight of the 152 children born after 22 weeks’ gestation lived for a year or more. At 23 weeks, 44 of 283 children survived. At 24 weeks, almost half – 198 of 474 – of babies survived.

Nadine Dorries, a Tory backbench MP has asked for a lowering of the legal age limit for abortion and has the backing of Conservative party leader David Cameron. But SPUC and members of the Parliamentary pro-life group have said that before any such legislation were passed, amendments would be introduced that would include the removal of the current requirement for two doctors to sign for approval, and that would allow for nurses to abort children and for the extending of the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.

In addition, SPUC has pointed out that most MPs would only support a lowering of the age limit if abortion were continued to be allowed up to birth for disabled children. Pro-abortion sentiment is much stronger in Parliament than is the pro-life view and such amendments would be all but certain to pass. Attempts to lower the age limit, no matter how well intended, would likely act as a “Trojan Horse” to bring in a totally unrestricted situation with abortion in Britain says SPUC.

See related coverage:

Abortion Lawmaker Recommends Halving Legally Allowed Gestational Age for Committing “Social” Abortions
  SPUC warns move is a “Trojan horse” agenda meant to allow “total deregulation of abortion.”