WASHINGTON, D.C., March 4, 2011 ( – Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), the largest abortion provider in the United Kingdom, has “excommunicated” U.S. abortion philosopher Frances Kissling from the abortion movement, calling her a “former pro-choice advocate” because she is not defending a woman’s “right to choose” abortion from conception all the way to birth.

It was the national controversy surrounding Kermit Gosnell’s “House of Horrors” late-term abortion practice that led to the clash between the two top abortion leaders.

The Gosnell story has provoked a debate within the abortion movement about whether unrestricted late-term abortions are proving toxic to the public’s acceptance of legal abortion; Kissling, the former head of “Catholics for Choice,” recently publicly affirmed that they are, in a column for the Washington Post.

In that column Kissling wrote, “we must end the fiction that an abortion at 26 weeks is no different from one at six weeks.” “We need to firmly and clearly reject post-viability abortions except in the most extreme cases,” she said.

But writing in Abortion Review, Furedi accuses Kissling and Slate columnist William Saletan of embracing an inconsistent, unprincipled “pro-choice” stance by abandoning the position that late-term abortions are morally equivalent to early embryo abortions.

“A principled defence of abortion – as late as necessary,” is the appropriate response to the scandal of the “Philadelphia Baby Butcher,” said Furedi.

Furedi blasted Saletan for “railing” against her essay defending the morality of abortion-on-demand, and for saying that the Gosnell case was an “occasion for pro-choice advocates to reflect on the limits of reproductive freedom.” She described Saletan’s recent writings on Gosnell and late-term abortion as a “grisly show-and-tell”: an “opportunity to fuel public distaste for later abortion procedures and to demand a ban on the few later abortions that take place legally.”

Furedi also said that Kissling should know better, because she was once leader of the National Abortion Federation (NAF). “There are some messages we cannot massage,” said Furedi, accusing Kissling of compromising on “pro-choice” principles in order to save the “pro-choice brand.”

Furedi explained that she did not view any moral difference between early and late-term abortions:

“Personally, I believe early and late abortions carry the same moral burden because I believe that all abortions end a potential human life. And further to that, I believe that the moral responsibility of decision-making, whatever the gestation, should rest with women and their doctors, because they most understand their circumstances and the results of their actions,” she said. “Others, Kissling and Saletan among them, seem to believe that early abortion is okay but late abortion is not because the early embryo is less of a human.”

Furedi for her part indicated that post-viable late-term abortions – even as late as 38 weeks – must be defended and kept legal for those women in a hypothetically desperate situation.

t is not surprising that public tolerance of later abortion is fragile,” added Furedi. “Those of us who understand abortion have a duty to explain late abortion – as it is – and to justify it.”