By John Connolly
LONDON, February 25, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – British Opposition leader David Cameron declared his support and vote for a reduction of the legal time limit for abortions on Monday.
Cameron said he would vote for the current 24-week deadline for abortions to be lowered to 20 or 21 weeks. Abortion limits have been set at 24 weeks since the law was passed in 1990.
“I would like to see a reduction in the current limit, as it is clear that, due to medical advancement, many babies are surviving at 24 weeks,” said Cameron. “If there is an opportunity in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, I will be voting to bring this limit down from 24 weeks. This must, however, remain a conscience issue and a free vote.”
Critics of the 1990 limits say that the abortion limit should be lowered due to the high infant survival rate at 24 weeks. The British Parliament has debated a new Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill, and many MPs want to use the bill as an opportunity for debating abortion, and the introduction of pro-abortion amendments.
“David Cameron’s views fly in the face of the medical establishment, which has concluded there is not yet enough scientific evidence to bring down the legal abortion limit,” said Tony Kerridge of Marie Stopes International, a prominent abortion provider. “Only 1 per cent of mothers in UK terminate their pregnancies at the 20- to 21-week point. This extreme minority is commonly made up of very young mothers with very compelling reasons to opt for a late termination. We believe these young women should be supported not vilified for their difficult choices. Many of them do not realize they are pregnant until very late, and do not seek out an abortion for frivolous reasons.”
Only one third of babies born between 22 and 25 weeks survived twenty years ago, while recent numbers show a survival rate of over 70 percent for the same time period.
“With the factual evidence we have, there can be no reason why any MP could, with all conscience, agree to the 24-week limit,” said Nadine Dorries, a former nurse and MP who has campaigned for the reduction of the abortion limit. “It’s not an issue of women’s rights or pro-life. The question is are we a decent and humane society, or aren’t we?”
“The current 24-week time limit was set in 1990 based on the gestational age a foetus was considered viable at that time,” said Julia Millington of the Pro-Life Alliance. “Neonatal medicine has progressed since then, and premature babies are capable of surviving below the current time limit.”
The pro-life movement has voiced further concerns over the sheer number of abortions taking place in the UK. Last year more than 200,000 abortions were performed in England and Wales.