On the 13th of March, Diana Johnson MP will be proposing her Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Ten Minute Rule Bill. This used to be called the ‘Abortion (Decriminalisation) Bill’, and would seek to introduce abortion on demand, for any reason, and even potentially up to birth.
‘Decriminalisation’ means the removal of an activity from criminal law, and this shows what the Johnson Bill would seek to cause: the removal of most if not all right-to-life protections for unborn children.
Currently, abortion is illegal, unless it is allowed under specific exemptions granted by the Abortion Act 1967. Two earlier Acts, the Offences Against The Person Act 1861, and the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929, created legal penalties for people causing the death of a baby either through miscarriage, or through direct ‘Child Destruction’.
The Johnson Bill would seek to repeal the provisions of one or both of these Acts. If such a Bill were to be passed, this would allow abortion to happen under any circumstances and for any reason without legal sanction, including sex-selective abortion, potentially even into the third trimester when the baby can be born alive.
If the provisions of the 1861 Act were repealed, abortion would be freely legal up to 28 weeks, and if the 1929 Act were repealed as well, it would be legal up to birth.
This would make the UK join a small handful of countries with such extreme legislation including China, Vietnam, and Canada. Illustrating what happens when you allow abortion for any reason, the Canadian Medical Association Journal have described the situation in their country as “a haven for parents who would terminate female fetuses in favour of having sons”.
All this is proposed despite the fact that 2012 polling shows that only 2% of women want the upper limit for abortion raised, whereas 59% want to see it lowered. Meanwhile, 2014 polling tells us that 86% to 88% of women oppose the legality of sex-selective abortion.
For more reasons against decriminalisation, see the excellent piece by Georgia Clarke of Oxford Students for Life last year on the RTL website.
The backers of the Bill, abortion provider BPAS, have made it explicit that they are campaigning for removal of all gestational time limits for abortion. At the launch of the campaign, BPAS CEO Ann Furedi emphasised this, saying ‘I want to be very, very clear and blunt… there should be no legal upper limit’.
It is absolutely imperative that everyone who cares about the humanity and dignity of unborn children contact their MP, asking them to attend the debate in the Commons on the 13th of March, and to vote against this extreme Bill. To do so by e-mail, go to the e-mail facility on the website of the ‘Not In Our Name’ campaign.
Please act now to defend the right to life of the most vulnerable members of our society: unborn children.