In their manifesto, released this morning, The Labour Party have pledged to introduce abortion, on-demand, for any reason, up to birth.
Full decriminalisation of abortion involves repealing sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act along with the Infant Life Preservation Act. The Abortion Act 1967, sets out exceptions to this underlying legislation which last year allowed for over 200,000 abortions to take place in England and Wales. Without this underlying legislation, the Abortion Act would become redundant.
This change in law would scrap the current 24-week time limit for abortion – and abortion would be available on-demand, for any reason, up to birth. The upper time limit would be completely abolished.
This would be the most extreme abortion law in the world. The change would position England and Wales drastically away from the European Union, where the most common abortion time limit among EU countries is 12 weeks.
The Liberal Democrats yesterday released their manifesto pledging to ‘decriminalise’ abortion but limit this change to 24-weeks. The Labour manifesto appears to go much further and seeks to fully decriminalise abortion with no mention of limiting the change to 24-weeks.
The Labour proposal also appears to go much further than current proposals from Diana Johnson MP, whose proposal seeks to limit decriminalisation by only repealing sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act. This would introduce abortion on demand, for any reason, up until when a child is capable of being born alive with a ceiling of 28 weeks, but not through to birth.
The proposal is also completely out of line with where women stand on the issue. Polling from Savanta ComRes on whether time limits for abortion should be increased showed that only 1% of women wanted the time limit to be increased right through to birth, in contrast to 70% of women who favoured a reduction in time limits.
The release of the manifesto has come as Right To Life UK has launched a major general election campaign – the Vote For Both Lives campaign – a large-scale initiative that they will run throughout the country in the lead up to election day on 12th December. MP candidates are being asked to sign the Both Lives Pledge, which outlines three policy changes that are designed to increase protection for babies in the womb and end pregnancy discrimination for women. Independent polling by Savanta ComRes shows that all three policy changes are strongly supported by the public.
Constituents are being encouraged to visit www.righttolife.org.uk/bothlives where it takes 30 seconds to ask their candidates to sign the Both Lives Pledge.
A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:
“Labour’s proposal would see the upper time limit completely abolished. Abortion would be available on-demand, for any reason, right through to birth. This means abortion throughout pregnancy.
“Polling shows that this extreme proposal is not supported by women, with only 1% of women wanting the abortion time limit to be increased right through to birth.
“We would be left with the most extreme abortion law in the world. The change would further position England and Wales drastically away from most countries in the European Union, where the most common abortion time limit among EU countries is 12 weeks.
“Is the record number of 200,608 abortions for English and Welsh residents in 2018 not enough for Labour? Is 1 in 4 babies being aborted not enough for Labour? Is the recent news that five teenagers had at least their sixth abortion in 2018 not enough for Labour? Clearly not.
“Polling shows large majorities of women in the UK support changes to our abortion laws that would have a positive impact on lowering the number of abortions. 70% of women want the current time limit on abortion to be lowered and 91% of women want a ban on sex-selective abortion.
“The Labour Party should be committing to bringing forward sensible new restrictions and increased support for women with unplanned pregnancies. This would ensure we were working together as a society to reduce the tragic number of abortions that happen each year.
“Labour’s manifesto confirms that the abortion lobby will be back in full force in the next parliament, pushing to introduce new extreme legislation. That is why we are urging everyone who is against sex-selective abortion, pregnancy discrimination and wants to see our abortion time limits lowered to ask their MP candidates to sign our Both Lives Pledge, so we can inform the public on where their candidates stand on these important pro-life issues.”