Offences Against the Person Act 1861

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:31 pm on 5th June 2018.

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Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Conservative, Worthing West 5:31 pm, 5th June 2018

There is no need to provide the answer now, but, at some stage, it would be interesting to know whether there is a debate and a variety of views in the DUP. That is important in Northern Ireland.

The second question is whether we can take out the idea that this is a rarity. I do not normally talk about personal circumstances, but I have been involved in about 10 conceptions, three of which brought children who were born alive. The other seven were aborted naturally—they were miscarriages. I have had people living in my house desperate to have children, who have gone through late miscarriages—incidentally, those who think that the heartbeat starts at three weeks are out by about 100%, because it is about six to eight weeks, but that is an unimportant detail. The question is clearly this: if there is going to be a deliberate termination, can it be as soon as possible rather than as late as it can be under the current procedures? That is one reason why we need to examine the need to have two doctors to approve a formal medical termination or whether one is sufficient, and what the protocols should be.

We need to approach this matter in this way: the world is not as we would like it to be. It is clearly wrong that, in this country, there are about 190,000 abortions a year. If we allow some people to come in from Spain, Ireland or Northern Ireland for abortions, that leaves about a 40% chance that someone in this country will be involved in a conception that is ended by a deliberate termination at some stage. It is common, and it is not something for the criminal law. It is about understanding how conception takes place, whether people want an extra child when they already have five children, whether they have conceived with someone to whom they have to say, “I’m sorry, what did you say your name was?”, or whether they say, “We have lived together for two years and we hadn’t planned this.” Those are the sorts of circumstances that require openness and open discussion.