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Open letter to Diana Johnson MP regarding a proposal to introduce abortion up to birth.


An extreme amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to introduce abortion on demand, for any reason, up to birth (including sex-selective abortion) to England and Wales has been tabled by Diana Johnson MP.

MPs will debate and vote on the amendment (NC55) on Monday 5 July.

This would be the single biggest change to abortion legislation since 1967 and would leave England and Wales with one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world.

This change to law would make the Abortion Act (1967) redundant by removing all legal safeguards (many of which protect women) around abortion provided by the Act.

The proposed law change is radically out of step with the opinions of women on abortion. Polling of over 2,000 British adults from Savanta ComRes on whether time limits for abortion should be increased showed that only 1% of women wanted the time limit to be extended to birth. In contrast, around 70% of women favoured a reduction in time limits from 24 weeks. 91% of women agreed that gender-selective abortion should be explicitly banned by the law. This polling shows that women want more, not fewer, safeguards around abortion.

If you are a medical professional, please take action by putting your name on the open letter below to Diana Johnson MP calling on her to urgently withdraw her amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that aims to introduce abortion on demand, for any reason, up to birth to England and Wales.

Full details on the proposed law change are outlined in the briefing here.

Add your name to the open letter

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Open letter

Dear Diana Johnson MP,

You have tabled an amendment (NC55)1 to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to make radical changes to abortion legislation in England and Wales.

The amendment would go far beyond just ‘decriminalising’ women, and would introduce abortion on demand, for any reason (including sex-selective abortion), up until birth. It would make the Abortion Act redundant by removing all current legal safeguards (many of which protect women) around abortion provided by the Act.2

This would leave England and Wales with one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world. It would also position England and Wales drastically away from Europe where the median gestational time limit for abortion is 12 weeks.3

As health professionals, where required, we are responsible for the care of both women and their babies throughout pregnancy and childbirth. It would be very difficult for us to work in a health service where the lives of these babies could be ended for any reason up to birth and where current legal safeguards around abortion, many of which are there to protect women, have been removed.

Polls have consistently shown that a larger proportion of women want more, not fewer restrictions on abortion. A Savanta ComRes4 poll found that only 1% of women wanted to see the time limit for abortion extended above 24 weeks and only 1% of women wanted to see the time limit for abortion extended through to birth. The same poll found that 70% of women wanted to see the abortion time limit reduced to 20 weeks or below. The poll also found that 91% of women favour a total and explicit ban on sex-selective abortion.

Your proposal to allow abortion up to birth in this country would be to attack the heart of the medical profession: our core duty to protect life whenever and wherever possible.

The British public prides itself on being a reasonable, humane and tolerant society. Such an extreme and radical abortion law has no place in the UK. Your proposal is out of keeping with what we take to be the central ethic of our profession, as well as the consistently expressed wishes of British women with regards to the legality and regulation of abortion.

As medical professionals, we, the undersigned, call on you to urgently withdraw your extreme abortion amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

Yours sincerely,

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