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News – Abortion time limit

June 2007
Abortion time limit

The forthcoming changes to the law on fertilisation and embryology may be used by pro-life campaigners as an opportunity to reduce the time limit on abortions from its current level of 24 weeks, to 21 or 20 weeks.

Caroline Flint, the public health minister, is preparing to publish her draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill. However, ministers have been warned to expect that some MPs may use the opportunity presented by the draft bill to discuss wider issues dealt with by the original legislation and related topics of interest, notably abortion.

This could lead to the first full-scale Commons vote for 17 years on lowering the legal limit for abortion. Recent medical advances have led increasingly to the survival of babies born before 24 weeks. MPs would expect a free vote on the matter should it come before Parliament.

It is thought that currently less than 200 babies are put up for adoption each year in the UK, whilst over 600 babies are aborted every day. Adoption agencies feel that most of the time adoption is not presented as a positive option for expectant mothers anticipating abortion.