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Campaigners fail in their bid to legalise abortion on demand

August 2020

Fiona Bruce – UK Parliament official portraits 2017
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Pro-abortion MPs have failed in an attempt to introduce abortion on demand in England and Wales. The radical plan came in the form of a proposed amendment to the government’s Domestic Abuse Bill.

But the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, did not select Labour MP Diana Johnson’s amendment to repeal Sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

And while Johnson’s other amendment attempting to legalise home abortions was selected for debate, it was withdrawn after opposition from MPs. However, the government announced it would consult on making DIY abortion pills available permanently.

Johnson had sought to make abortion available for any reason in England and Wales. The existing requirement for the consent of two doctors would have been abolished.

Her attempt to legalise home abortions where there are allegations of domestic abuse also failed. It was strongly opposed, even by MPs who are not pro-life, forcing Johnson to withdraw it.

During the debate, Fiona Bruce said: ‘This is a domestic abuse bill; it should not be hijacked by those continuously campaigning on another issue.’

However, Minister for Women Victoria Atkins MP announced that emergency abortion measures introduced because of the coronavirus pandemic could become permanent.

In March, the Department of Health and Social Care released guidelines which said a woman could have an abortion at home for any reason up to ten weeks after an e-consultation or phone conversation with a doctor.

The government said the measure would last up to two years or until the pandemic was over, whichever came first, but has now said it will hold a consultation on the issue and consider allowing the changes to remain.