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MPs introduce extreme abortion amendments

30 November 2023
Newborn baby mother 1

MPs Diana Johnson and Stella Creasey have tabled amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill, both of which aim to 'decriminalise' abortion.

The decriminalisation of abortion is a campaign objective for pro-abortion groups. The aim is to remove abortion from criminal law altogether, so it becomes just a medical practice.

At the moment, the law around abortion across the UK is complex. In England and Wales, section 1 of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act (ILPA) 1929 gives preborn babies protection after 'viability'.

Sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against The Persons Act 1861 (OAPA) set out criminal offences associated with abortion.

Section 1 of the Abortion Act 1967 provides exceptions to these laws to allow abortions in certain circumstances to take place legally.

The key point is this: at the moment, there are still some legal protections for preborn babies. If you decriminalise abortion, you remove these final, legal safeguards. The risk then is abortion becomes all the more available.

NC1 tabled by Diana Johnson is a narrow amendment and simply says that no offence is committed 'by a woman in relation to her own pregnancy' in relation to section 58 and 59 of the OAPA and section 1 of the ILPA.

If this amendment passes, it would mean the Abortion Act would only need to provide legal exemptions to doctors who provide abortion up to birth and it would also mean sections 58 and 59 of the OAPA would still apply to coercive abortions.

NC2 by Stella Creasey is more complex but the effect would be even more radical. Ms Creasey was behind the push for Westminster to impose abortion law change on Northern Ireland, a part of the UK where, because it never adopted the 1967 Abortion Act, evidence shows there are 100,000 people alive who otherwise would not be so.

What’s our response?

Firstly, at CARE we are not for the criminalisation of woman. Our heart is to support any women going through a crisis pregnancy and especially to ensure she is made aware of all her options.

The current law recognises that an abortion is not simply another medical procedure for either the mum or the preborn child. In an abortion, there are two lives involved.

At the moment, the current law does provide at least some legal protections. These would be at risk if either of these amendments became law.

More broadly, in the Christian worldview, life begins at conception and a person comes into being from this point. We reject 'personhood theory', which defines an arbitrary moment when someone becomes a 'person'.

Across the UK, there are record numbers of abortions having each year. We need to better understand the reasons behind this (there are a range of factors involved) and we need to tell a better story, one which involves protecting both lives in every pregnancy.

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In any pregnancy, both the woman and preborn baby have inherent value and dignity, by virtue of being made in the image of God. CARE is passionately pro-woman and pro-life.

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