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MPs debate positive and negative changes to abortion law in England and Wales

15 May 2024
Pregnant pregnancy ultrasound scan baby woman

CARE has urged MPs to support amendments to the UK Government's Criminal Justice Bill that would make positive changes to abortion law in England and Wales, as crucial votes on the proposals loom.

MPs began report stage scrutiny of the legislation today and will come to consider a series of amendments on abortion, and an amendment to outlaw so-called conversion practices in England, on 04 June.

One abortion-related amendment from Caroline Ansell MP, would reduce the statutory time limit from 24 weeks to 22 weeks. And another, from Sir Liam Fox MP, would make it illegal for babies with Down’s Syndrome to be aborted past the legal limit.

Two further amendments aim to make regressive changes. The first, from Stella Creasy MP, would completely decriminalise abortion until 24 weeks' gestation. And a second, from Diana Johnson MP, would prevent any woman who induces an abortion being charged.

A fifth amendment, by Alicia Kearns MP, seeks to criminalise ‘conversion practices’. Critics have warned that her sweeping amendment poses a serious threat to religiosu freedom, and stressed the sufficiency of existing laws in tackling harmful behaviours.

Ross Hendry, CEO CARE, commented:

Ross Hendry

“It is encouraging to see amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill that would usher in positive changes to abortion law if they are supported.

“Caroline Ansell MP’s amendment to reduce the statutory limit for abortion to 22 weeks is both logical – recognising that babies are surviving out of the womb at this stage of gestation – and compassionate, given the additional trauma women face through abortions at a later stage. The UK is out-of-step with the majority of European nations in having such a late abortion limit.

“Sir Liam Fox MP’s amendment is also worthy of support. It is simply wrong that our abortion law permits disabled babies to be aborted up to term. This is discrimination, and it sends a message that babies with conditions such as Down’s syndrome are less worthy of life. We would urge parliamentarians to listen to campaigners’ voices and back a change in the law.

“We note with concern the amendments to liberalise abortion law from Stella Creasy MP and Diana Johnson MP. At a time when abortions are at record levels, we should be asking why so many women are choosing this path and assessing what support can be put in place to help mothers have their babies. This is particularly important in a context of mounting economic pressure on families.

Addressing another amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill from Alicia Kearns MP to bring in a ban on ‘conversion practices’, Mr Hendry added:

“Christians across the UK strongly condemn harmful actions towards people who identify as gay, or trans. Legal experts have warned that because Ms Kearns’ proposals are ill-defined, they pose a serious threat to religious liberty, parental freedoms, and the ability of doctors to support children. The sufficiency of existing laws in tackling harmful behaviours is also well evidenced.”

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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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