Abortion Time Limits

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:25 am on 19th July 2005.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jim Dobbin Jim Dobbin Labour, Heywood and Middleton 11:25 am, 19th July 2005

That is another issue, for another debate, but my personal view is against contraception.

A growing body of peer-reviewed medical evidence shows that induced abortion is associated with increased mortality, increased suicide rates and a large number of severe, immediately life-threatening medical complications, as well as long-term consequences for subsequent pregnancies, such as an increased risk of premature birth and ectopic pregnancies. Two Finnish studies in recent years have provided particularly disturbing evidence of increased mortality and suicide rates following abortion. More research needs to be conducted on the physical and psychological consequences of abortion. Also, abortion providers have a duty to ensure that the women who are considering abortion are given all the facts about abortion and what it entails. A right to choose must be accompanied by the right to know, but that information and counselling are often not given.

Abortion law reform should not focus exclusively on time limits. Rather, we should consider other legislative options. There should be informed consent legislation, placing a legal obligation on all abortion providers to provide women considering abortion with the relevant information about the physical and psychological consequences. Also, there could be a compulsory cooling-off period between the decision to have an abortion and the abortion. We could consider giving greater financial and practical support to women in crisis pregnancy situations and introducing parental notification laws for minors, which has been in the news recently. However, the most important issue, right at the top of the agenda, is the rights of the unborn child. We talk about foetuses and use other technical terms, but in the end there is a baby—a child—and that must not be forgotten. Anyone who has seen Professor Stuart Campbell's pictures will know that that is the situation. To me, a child is there.

Some people call for a 22-week limit, some for a 20-week limit, others for an 18-week limit and some have even argued for 12 weeks as a possibility. This debate is the first salvo from the pro-abortion lobby. No doubt we will return to this important subject in the next Session.