New Clause 1 — Amendment of the law relating to abortion

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 8:30 pm on 20th May 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo Minister of State (Department of Health) (Public Health) 8:30 pm, 20th May 2008

No; if I can make a little progress, I will give way if I have time later. I want to be brief so that other Members can speak.

My main point about the time limit is that in the late '80s there was a clear consensus from the medical profession that the age at which a foetus should be presumed to be viable should be changed from 28 to 24 weeks, and there is no evidence at the present time that that position has changed. In fact, the British Association of Perinatal Medicine, the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing and the faculty for sexual and reproductive healthcare of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists all concur with that view.

The current clinical evidence shows that although there have been medical advances in caring for premature babies, only a small number of babies born at under 24 weeks' gestation can survive. For those that do, there may be many questions about their quality of life—most have severe problems—whereas the situation improves markedly at 24 to 25 weeks, which reaffirms why the limit of 24 weeks was chosen.

Embed this video

Copy and paste this code on your website