New Clause 1 — Amendment of the law relating to abortion

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 7:30 pm on 20th May 2008.

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Photo of Mark Pritchard Mark Pritchard Conservative, The Wrekin 7:30 pm, 20th May 2008

I rise to discuss new clause 3, but I will support any reduction in the current term limit, from 20 weeks downwards.

Abortion is a sensitive and complex issue. It is a subject best debated in moderate and respectful language, and I believe that it has been thus far in this debate. Members of all parties have strongly held views, as we have already heard. They are views that I respect, although I may disagree with some of them. I would like to put a question to the Committee today. Has the common practice of abortion moved away from the spirit of the original Abortion Act 1967, which was amended by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990?

The 1967 Act makes it crystal clear that when the termination of the unborn takes place, it should be

"to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman; or" if the pregnancy would put the mother's life at risk; or

"if the child...would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.".

I think that most hon. Members accept those reasons, as well as reasons of incest and rape. There is, however, increasing concern inside and outside this House that far too many abortions are being carried out for social, rather than medical, reasons. Is it right that Britain carries out 200,000 abortions a year—600 abortions a day—and 6,200 of those abortions between 16 and 20 weeks? Is it right that 4,000 women in 2006 had had four repeat abortions, that nearly 1,000 women had had more than five abortions, and that some had had up to eight abortions, as my hon. Friend Mr. Leigh has already pointed out? Is that what our predecessors in 1967 set out to achieve in the original Act? There have been 6.7 million abortions in the United Kingdom since 1967.

Far too many babies are terminated in the second and third trimesters. For those in the third trimester, abortion can often mean a lethal injection to the heart, and then the carving and slicing of the unborn child's body parts, tearing limb from limb, cracking the infant's skull and discarding the baby's body parts into a blood-filled plastic bucket. I challenge the media, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough: let us see on prime-time network television a late-term abortion for everybody to see. It is in the public interest, with millions of pounds of taxpayers' money being spent on abortion every year. Let the people of this country decide what goes on, what they will pay for and what they will stand for. Let us have these investigative reporters, these brave journalists who speak about the public interest on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 or independent and Sky television put on that programme and let the people of this country decide for themselves. Why are they afraid of it? Why are they shying away? Let us see some real broadcasting for the public good.

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