Guest Column

VICTORY: Amendment to legalize abortion on demand up to birth withdrawn in UK

United Kingdom

(Right to Life UK) An attempt to hijack the UK Government’s flagship Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill with two extreme abortion proposals has failed, in a major pro-life victory.

Diana Johnson MP has decided not to take her amendment (NC 55), that would have introduced abortion on demand, for any reason, up to birth, to a vote. Similarly, Rupa Huq MP has decided not to take her amendment (NC 42), that would have introduced a jail sentence of up to 2 years for offering support to women outside abortion clinics nationwide, to a vote.

If Diana Johnson MP and Rupa Huq MP had pushed their amendments to a vote and lost, this would have been the first time that a pro-abortion amendment or Bill had been defeated in a vote in UK history.

It appears that the abortion lobby realised that it was very likely that both amendments were going to be defeated and encouraged the MPs not to take these amendments to a vote.

A large number of MPs in the debate spoke out against these attempts to hijack the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill with extreme abortion amendments. This included stirring speeches from Fiona Bruce MP, Sally-Ann Hart MP, Danny Kruger MP, and Bob Blackman MP, along with a number of MPs who don’t usually agree with the pro-life positon on abortion but were shocked by thea proposal to introduce abortion up to birth.

Ahead of the debate today, over 800 medical professionals signed an open letter to Diana Johnson urging her to withdraw her amendment.

Diana Johnson’s amendment would have introduced abortion on demand, for any reason, up to birth, to England and Wales. This would have been the most extensive change to abortion legislation since 1967 and would have left England and Wales with one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world.

Rupa Huq’s amendment would have introduced a jail term of up to 6 months and/or an unlimited fine, and, in further instances, up to 2 years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine, for anyone that speaks about abortion to a woman seeking an abortion within 150 metres of every abortion clinic in the country. This would have included protesting or demonstrating outside a clinic, as well as offering a woman practical, emotional, or financial support to be able to continue a pregnancy if she were unsure about her decision.

The failed proposals were radically out of step with the opinions of the general public.

READ: UK’s abortion facility censorship zone amendment withdrawn… for now

Polling from Savanta ComRes on whether time limits for abortion should be increased shows that only 1% of women want the time limit to be extended; in contrast, 70% of women favour a reduction in time limits. The polling also showed that 77% of women agree that doctors should be required to verify in person that a patient seeking an abortion is not under pressure from a third party to undergo the abortion, and 91% of women agree that gender-selective abortion should be explicitly banned by the law.

A poll from Savanta ComRes released last week showed that only 21% of the population support the introduction of nationwide ‘censorship zones’ around abortion clinics.  It showed that support was lowest among 18 to 34-year-olds, with only 15% supporting the introduction of nationwide ‘censorship zones’ around abortion clinics.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

This is a major victory for the unborn child and women facing unplanned pregnancies.

Diana Johnson’s amendment would have removed all current legal safeguards around abortion provided by the Abortion Act, many of which protect women. It would have been legal for an abortion to happen for any reason right through to birth. This would have left England and Wales with one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world.

This amendment would have left the unborn child with considerably worse protections and removed many of the current safeguards that protect women facing unplanned pregnancies.

Rupa Huq’s amendment would have punished offers of support to women outside abortion clinics in crisis situations and in need of help, despite the large number of accounts of women receiving such help in a timely and life-changing manner.

Thank you to the thousands of people that rallied over the last week to get friends and family to email their MPs. MPs received more emails ahead of this vote than they have ever received ahead of an abortion vote and some MPs said that they received more emails on this issue than on any other issue while in office.

Thank you to the amazing group of pro-life MPs in Parliament who have worked so hard to ensure that these extreme amendments were defeated. 

Thank you to the large number of organisations that have all come together to encourage their supporters to contact MPs and ensure this major attempt to introduce extreme abortion changes was defeated.

Editor’s Note: This article was published at Right to Life UK and is reprinted here with permission.

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