Hundreds of medical professionals want to decrease UK’s upper abortion time limit

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A group of Members of Parliament (MPs) in the United Kingdom are looking to reduce the country’s abortion limit to 22 weeks, and that effort is being applauded by a group of over 700 medical professionals.

Caroline Ansell is leading a group of over 30 MPs to have the country’s current abortion law amended. In an op-ed written for the Telegraph, she noted that the rate of survival for premature babies born at 23 weeks has doubled, and medical guidance has changed to encourage doctors to intervene for micropreemies born at 22 weeks. “This is news to be celebrated, itself a feat of medical progress that has transformed countless lives,” she said. “And yet, it leaves a contradiction in how we in the UK regard babies at this gestation. Unlike our closest European neighbours, the UK’s upper time limit for abortion of 24 weeks remains beyond the gestational age at which many babies now survive.”

She further pointed out that even within the same hospital, a baby could meet one of two drastically different fates.

“[A] study estimated that in 2020 and 2021, 261 babies born at 22 or 23 weeks gestation survived to be discharged from hospital,” she wrote, and added, “And yet in 2021, the most recent year for which we have full records, 755 abortions of babies at 22 or 23 weeks gestation were performed under ground C of the statutory grounds under which abortions are permitted, for which there is currently a 24-week time limit.”

A letter signed by the medical professionals was sent to all 650 MPs urging them to vote for the amendment. The letter, included in a press release from Right to Life UK, read:

This amendment is long overdue in light of the increased numbers of babies born at 22 or 23 weeks who are now able to survive. In the decade to 2019 alone, the survival rate for babies born at 23 weeks doubled, prompting new guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine (BAPM) that enables doctors to intervene to save premature babies from 22 weeks gestation.

In 1990, the abortion time limit was reduced from 28 to 24 weeks gestation in reflection of medical and technological advancements that had resulted in improving survival rates for babies born before 28 weeks gestation. A reduction in the upper time limit to 22 weeks would be appropriate now given further medical advancements that have led to significant further improvements in survival rates for babies who are born before the 24-week abortion limit.

A reduction to 22 weeks is a moderate change that ought to command widespread support, particularly in the context of the median abortion time limit among EU countries, which is 12 weeks gestation. As medical professionals, we, the undersigned, urge MPs to support this important amendment.

John Wyatt, an Emeritus Professor of Neonatal Paediatrics, Ethics & Perinatology at University College London and a neonatologist of almost 30 years, pointed out the inherent contradiction under current law, saying, “I have first hand experience that on the one hand we are able to keep babies alive from 22 to 23 weeks gestation and many of them survive and live normal and healthy lives, yet at the same time the current abortion act allows abortion to be carried out effectively at maternal request at 24 weeks gestation.”

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Surface Mode Of The Fetal Face And The Left Hand. Fetus At 24 Weeks. (Photo By BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images)

“The UK abortion time limit is double the average among EU countries, which is 12 weeks gestation, a point in pregnancy when the NHS website describes the unborn baby as ‘fully formed,'” Catherine Robinson, spokesperson of Right to Life UK, said in the press release. “At the moment, a baby at 22 or 23 weeks gestation could be born prematurely and have a dedicated medical team provide expert care to try to save his or her life, while another baby at the same age could have their life deliberately ended by abortion in the same hospital at the same time. This is a contradiction in UK law. That’s why we need to support Caroline Ansell’s amendment to lower the abortion time limit from 24 to 22 weeks in line with advances in medical science.”

Ansell’s amendment would lower the British abortion limit to 22 weeks, though preborn babies could still be aborted if they are found to have a prenatal diagnosis of a disability or abnormality, or if the mother’s life is in danger. So while able-bodied children will be protected from abortion after 22 weeks, preborn children with disabilities will still be allowed to be killed up to birth.

The DOJ put a pro-life grandmother in jail for protesting the killing of preborn children. Please take 30-seconds to TELL CONGRESS: STOP THE DOJ FROM TARGETING PRO-LIFE AMERICANS.

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