One of the most controversial issues in politics and a very topical one at present in the Westminster village (and Eastenders too) is that of abortion. A campaign is fighting to lower the limit for abortion to 20 weeks led by Conservative MP Nadine Dorries.
Firstly I disagree wholly with the manner in which the issue was brought up. The issue has been tagged onto the consideration of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (a controversial Bill in its own right) even though there are no clauses that directly change the law on abortion. Such a Trojan Horse tactic demeans the issue. Any changes made to the abortion law should be made through a separate Bill after full consideration of both Houses of Parliament and plenty of pre-legislative scrutiny. The issue is far too important to just tag on like this.
The basis of my view on abortion is essentially that it is the woman’s choice to make. I have no right to dictate if and when a woman can have an abortion as I will never have to make such a decision. However any changes to be made to abortion law would have to be made purely on the basis of substantial empirical evidence. Photographs of babies moving in the womb in my opinion aren’t good enough. I understand that DVDs of foetuses post abortion have been sent out to those seen as pro-abortion, a disgusting thing to do. Emotion must be removed from the debate. We need to follow the evidence. If such evidence exists showing the survival rates of premature births then there surely would be a case for a change to the limit. At present I am not persuaded that such a change is necessary. Those who support abortion aren’t child murderers with no understanding of the pain the foetuses suffer and those who are against abortion aren’t necessarily religious nutters stuck in the medieval ages forcing wayward parents to take children to full term as punishment for the sin of procreation. The woman making the choice very often will suffer psychological scarring and the decision to have an abortion will change their lives forever.
I propose just one amendment to bring the legislation up to date that surely couldn’t be that disagreeable. Those with minor disabilities such as cleft palate or hair lip can be aborted as late as 39 weeks at present. It seems strange that the rules should be completely different for those who have slight, almost cosmetic problems which surgery can routinely solve, whilst normal babies have tighter restrictions. I propose that the limit on abortion for those with minor disabilities should be brought into line with that of the normal abortion limit. It is a shame that David Cameron does not agree and has spoken publicly saying he believes that abortion should continue to be allowed for those with minor disabilities up to 39 weeks whilst favouring a cut of the normal limit to 21 or 22 weeks.
Abortion isn’t an issue that can treated lightly and I’m sure that the senior politicians who have publicly commented on the issue do not treat it as such. Any change that occurs must happen on the basis of evidence, not emotion, and should take as long as necessary to be done properly. Rushing to change abortion law will lead to a horrible situation that no one wants.