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LONDON, July 6, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Two radical abortion measures in the U.K. were dropped last night, drawing cheers from pro-life groups and the Catholic bishops of England and Wales.

On Monday, MP Diana Johnson did not move forward with an amendment, NC55, that she proposed for a policing bill under consideration by parliament.

Johnson’s amendment would have repealed sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act, which govern abortion. Right to Life UK had warned that the move would “leave England and Wales with one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world.”

“There would be no abortion law regulating abortion up until birth,” if NC55 prevailed, the group said. “In other words: Abortion would be available on demand, for any reason, up until birth,” and “could be performed legally on any grounds, including sex-selection.” Right to Life UK also warned that the amendment would have gutted conscience protections for healthcare providers and removed safeguards for women.

Right to Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson hailed the failure of Johnson’s measure on Monday, calling it a “major victory for the unborn child and women facing unplanned pregnancies.”

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) also celebrated the demise of NC55. “Last night was one of celebration for pro-life supporters, as Diana Johnson’s extreme abortion amendment was not added to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.”

“No MP fully supported Ms Johnson’s proposal, and many pro-life MPs spoke out against it,” SPUC said. “The proposals are shocking: a viable human being could have his or her life ended up to the point of birth, with no one held accountable, and yet a day later similar actions against a child outside the womb would constitute murder,” MP Fiona Bruce said during debate of NC55.

SPUC noted that Bruce reported having “over 150 constituents email urging me to vote against new clause 55 — not one constituent has asked me to support it.” Another MP, Bob Blackman said that he “received more emails and calls about new clause 55 than I have about any other measure since I was elected to the House 11 years ago,” SPUC related.

Prior to debate on Monday, more than 800 medical professionals joined an open letter calling on Johnson to retract NC55. “Your proposal to allow abortion up to birth in this country would be to attack the heart of the medical profession: our core duty to protect life whenever and wherever possible,” the signers said. They highlighted a survey from 2017 that found that only 1% of British women support expanding late-term abortion.

Along with NC55, another radical pro-abortion amendment, NC42, died yesterday. Tabled to the policing bill by MP Rupa Huq, NC42 would have criminalized pro-life outreach in front of abortion clinics, introducing prison sentences for individuals attempting “to inform about abortion services.”

The amendment would apply to anyone who “seeks to influence” “any person’s decision to access, provide, or facilitate the provision” of an abortion within a 150-meter “buffer zone” of an abortion clinic, as well as anyone “persistently, continuously or repeatedly” occupying a so-called “buffer zone.”

Even expressing an opinion about abortion would have been banned under NC42, which proposed a jail term of six months for first offenses and two-year sentences for further violations. MP Huq had tried and failed to pass a similar policy through the House of Commons last year, Right to Life UK pointed out. Recent polling cited by the group noted that only around 21% of British adults favor national “buffer zone” censorship rules across the United Kingdom.

Like Johnson, Huq dropped her amendment amid broad backlash. “In the end, the Government Minister, Victoria Atkins, did not even mention the abortion amendments in her summing up, and they were not selected by the Speaker for separate votes, meaning they fell,” SPUC reported.

“Rupa Huq’s amendment would have punished offers of support to women outside abortion clinics in crisis situations and in need of help, despite the large number of accounts of women receiving such help in a timely and life-changing manner,” Catherine Robinson said.

U.K. Catholic bishops blasted both NC55 and NC42 on Tuesday and celebrated the fact that the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill remains free of extreme pro-abortion add-ons. Bishop John Sherrington, Lead Bishop for Life Issues at the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said in a statement that he welcomed the failure of the amendments.

“I welcome the fact that the radical amendment (New Clause 55), which was well outside the scope of the bill, was withdrawn,” Bishop Sherrington said. “The abortion clinic censorship zone amendment (New Clause 42) was also helpfully withdrawn. We must stay vigilant to attempts to widen access to abortion by hijacking other bills.”

The bishops, Right to Life UK, and SPUC thanked the thousands of pro-lifers who lobbied their MPs to stop Johnson’s and Huq’s proposals.

“We hope that being defeated again will prove to Diana Johnson that there is no appetite for such extreme abortion legislation in this country,” SPUC campaigns director Antonia Tully said. “But if she or another pro-abortion MP do try to decriminalize abortion again we will be ready to take action to protect unborn babies and their mothers.”


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