The British House of Commons has rejected a series of proposals to reduce the abortion limit below 24 weeks, reported BBC News.
A series of limits, aimed at prohibiting abortion after 12, 16, 20 and 22 weeks were all voted against, although by decreasing majorities. The closest vote was on a 22-week limit, and was defeated by 304 to 233.
The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and most of the cabinet voted to keep the current 24 week limit, although ministers Ruth Kelly, Des Browne and Paul Murphy all voted to reduce the limit to 12 weeks.
Gordon Brown gave his Labour MP’s a free vote on the issue, although Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, who led a campaign to reduce the limit to 20 weeks, told the BBC that “the Labour MPs were on a three-line whip to attend” and that they were “dragooned off into the 24-week lobby.”
The Conservative Party leader, David Cameron, voted in favour of a 20-week limit and then a reduction to 22 weeks.
The abortion limit was last changed in 1990, when the legal limit was reduced from 28 to 24 weeks.
Health Minister Dawn Primarolo, who voted against the proposals, said to MPs: “Wouldn’t it be appalling if we drove women back to where they were before the 1967 (Abortion) Act?”
Former minister Edward Leigh, who led the call for a cut to 12 weeks, said public opinion had shifted in favour of a reduction. “We are so careful about the life of a baby when it is a wanted baby, so concerned with the mother’s health, he told MPs. “But we are dismissive of the rights of an unborn child that is not a wanted child.”
Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)
“I cannot believe how anyone would have the heart to kill a human being … Women talk about their rights: who’s representing or acting as advocates for the rights of the babies who are being killed?” – H, Essex, UK
“Wouldn’t it be nice if politicians listened to the voice of millions out here? Why does these hypocrites think for some unknown reason we are all thick from the neck up and they have the divine right to decide what is good for us or bad. These people believe, for some reason or other we are still living in the 13th or 14th century. The sooner we rid ourselves off these dictatorial parasites, the sooner we will get near to a proper
civilised way of living.” – Wattie, Plymouth, UK
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