Pro-life MPs have called for reform of the abortion law after new statistics showed that babies born at 23 weeks have a one-in-three chance of survival.
The 23-week survival rate in England and Wales was 23 per cent in 2010 and fell to 20 per cent in 2011, but has since risen, calling into question the current abortion limit in England, Wales and Scotland of 24 weeks.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that in 2014, 33 per cent of babies born at 23 weeks reached their first birthday. Survival for babies born at 24 weeks also improved.
Fiona Bruce, Conservative MP for Congleton and chairwoman of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, told the Daily Mail that the figures highlighted “how shocking it is that our current law does not recognise the rights and immense value of a baby at that stage in its life”.
She said: “In the rest of Europe, the term limit for abortions is generally around 12 weeks, apart from exceptional circumstances. So at 20 weeks, a baby in France or Germany has more rights than a baby in Britain. This is not right. Medical care has advanced and the law needs to catch up. Increasingly, these children can survive and live lives as fulfilled and valuable as any of us, and they should be given the chance to do so.”
Meanwhile, Diana Johnson, the MP for Hull North, is seeking to fully decriminalise abortion, describing the current law as “Victorian”. Her Bill is to receive its second reading in two weeks. Robert Flello, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent said: “I think the public is behind a reduction in time limits and not abortion up to birth, which obviously is what decriminalisation would open the door to.”
How to continue reading…
This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week
The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection