Abortion proposal did not go far enough

THIS week MPs voted on a number of reforms to embryology laws which date back to 1990, with four controversial aspects. With a view to updating the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in line with scientific advances, MPs voted on whether scientists s

THIS week MPs voted on a number of reforms to embryology laws which date back to 1990, with four controversial aspects.

With a view to updating the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in line with scientific advances, MPs voted on whether scientists should be allowed to carry on with controversial stem cell research using hybrid human-animal embryos in the hope it leads to disease treatments, and whether to permit 'saviour siblings' - creating a child with a tissue match to save a sick brother or sister.

They also voted on whether lesbian couples and single women should be given equal access to IVF treatment, and whether to reduce the upper limit for abortions from 24 weeks to 22 or even 20 weeks.

It's not feasible to adequately cover all four controversial parts of the Bill in this column, so I will therefore focus on just one - the reduction of the upper limit for abortions.


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Mid Beds MP Nadine Dorries tabled the amendment to the Bill, saying she respects "a woman's right to choose" but "it is now time to adopt a more moderate, commonsense approach to abortion".

Firstly, let me say I am against abortion at any point during pregnancy for what are widely termed "social" reasons, including relationship status, financial status, and the fact the woman, man or couple simply do not want a baby. An abortion should not be carried out as a form of birth control because the pregnancy is unplanned and inconvenient.

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People who have willingly had sex should accept the consequences of their actions and the responsibilities that may follow.

I am also against abortion if it is discovered a baby will be born with a disability. It implies the life of a disabled person is less worthwhile than that of a person without a disability, and that one life is less valuable than another. The Disability Rights Commission also said it "reinforces negative stereotypes of disability".

I think abortion is morally acceptable if the mother's life is at risk or if the pregnancy is the result of a crime, such as rape, incest or child abuse.

I believe the right to life begins at conception, but reducing the upper limit for abortions would have been a step in the right direction.

At 24 weeks, an unborn baby is termed "viable". It has a chance of survival if it is born and, because of the care now given in neonatal units, more and more babies born at this stage in pregnancy do survive. It cannot therefore be justified that it is acceptable to abort a being that is able to begin to exist independently of its mother.

In any case, I think it's ludicrous that the right to life is dependent on whether a being is located inside or outside of the womb. A life is a life and should have nothing to do with location.

Those who are pro-abortion often suggest the debate centres on when the foetus becomes sufficiently human to have the right to life. But a fertilised egg has the potential to grow into a foetus and a human being. At whatever stage an abortion is carried out, the potential for life is still extinguished. Having an abortion at an earlier stage in the pregnancy simply makes it physically and psychologically easier for a woman because she is getting rid of something that doesn't resemble a human being.

I supported the proposal to reduce the upper limit for abortion, in fact I don't think it went far enough, and I'm disappointed it was rejected by MPs on Tuesday.

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