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Major pro-life victory as extreme abortion amendments will not become law

In a major pro-life victory, two extreme abortion up to birth amendments, which would have made it more likely that healthy babies are aborted at home for any reason, will not become law following the announcement of the General Election and the forthcoming dissolution of Parliament.

Yesterday afternoon, the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, announced that a General Election will be held on 4 July 2024. This means that all Parliamentary business that has not been approved by tomorrow, when Parliament will be prorogued, will fall, including the Criminal Justice Bill along with its extreme pro-abortion amendments.

The Criminal Justice Bill has not been included in the bills being considered by Parliament during the ‘wash up’ period before Parliament is dissolved. This means that the Criminal Justice Bill will not be taken further.

As a result, the two extreme abortion up to birth amendments tabled by Diana Johnson and Stella Creasy will now not pass and these extreme changes to our abortion laws will not become law.

If these amendments had passed in the House of Commons, they would have ushered in the largest change to abortion legislation since 1967, which would have likely led to the loss of many more lives to abortion.

How this victory was achieved

The Criminal Justice Bill had its first reading on 1 November 2023 and Committee Stage ended on 30 January 2024. On 31 January, the Government started accepting amendments to the Bill for Report Stage.

The Bill was then expected to proceed through the remaining stages in the Commons and Lords and should have completed all of its stages by now.

Anticipating that there was a real risk that these extreme abortion up to birth amendments could pass, or the abortion lobby could force the Government into making a concession, which would have likely resulted in many more lives being lost to abortion, pro-life MPs proceeded with tabling their own pro-life amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill.

This ensured that the Government was far less likely to do a deal with either Stella Creasy or Diana Johnson and make a pro-abortion change to abortion policy ahead of a potential vote, a tactic that the abortion lobby had used in the past.

With proactive pro-life amendments in play, the Government had the ability to push back on demands for policy concessions from pro-abortion MPs.

At the same time, pro-life MPs took to the media making it clear that they would not be able to vote for the Bill in its entirety if the pro-abortion amendments passed.

The tabling of these pro-life amendments, with signatures from over 50 MPs on each, showed to the Government that there was a significant chance that they would pass, and their Criminal Justice Bill would become what is known as a ‘Christmas tree bill’, a bill that makes many unrelated changes to the law. This is something that Governments usually want to avoid. 

So the Government appears to have subsequently delayed Report Stage of the Bill for a number of months, and then pushed back the scheduled debate on the abortion amendments to 4 June, after Parliament would be dissolved.

This was likely to avoid what the Government would perceive as controversial votes on a series of amendments and also so they could avoid the potential defeat of the Bill at Third Reading if pro-lifers decided to vote against it.

Pro-life amendments

MPs also took the approach of tabling pro-life amendments, since going on the offensive would assist the work they were doing in Parliament to defeat opposition amendments. By campaigning for a lowering of the time limit and other positive changes to the law, they were able to draw attention to how extreme our abortion laws already are, making any further loosening of the law appear even more extreme.

Finally, had the positive pro-life amendments passed, and the Government allowed the Bill to complete all stages and received Royal Assent, they would have made significant pro-life changes to our laws that would have likely saved many more lives from abortion.

Given the Bill will no longer proceed, pro-life MPs will not be able to make these changes to our law, but significant momentum for these changes has been built in Parliament, the media and among the general public through these amendments being tabled.

Largest nationwide pro-life campaign run in a generation 

Pro-life organisation, Right To Life UK, has run three major nationwide campaigns over the last six months, in the lead up to the expected votes on abortion law changes.

The No To Abortion Up To Birth campaign was focused on opposing the two pro-abortion amendments. The Little Fighters campaign supported Caroline Ansell’s abortion time limit reduction amendment and the Protect Both Lives campaign supported Flick Drummond’s amendment to reinstate in-person consultations to help protect women and babies from dangerous late-term home abortions. 

Together these three campaigns have been the largest nationwide pro-life campaign run in the United Kingdom in a generation, with millions of people reached through these campaigns.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said “The General Election means that the Criminal Justice Bill has fallen and there will be no votes on two extreme pro-abortion amendments that would have made it more likely that healthy babies are aborted at home for any reason, up to birth”.

“If these amendments had passed in the House of Commons, they would have ushered in the largest change to abortion legislation since 1967 – this would have likely led to the loss of many more lives to abortion”.

“Thank you to the tens of thousands of people around the country who have taken a series of campaign actions over the last six months, including emailing MPs, signing petitions, sending postcards, sharing campaigns with friends and many other actions that have culminated in this major victory”.

“The Department of Health and Social Care has just revealed that there were over a quarter of a million abortions in 2022, so pro-lifers everywhere will need to redouble their efforts”.

Dear reader,

Ahead of the General Election on 4 July, do you want to find out where your local MP candidates stand on abortion?

You can find out now using our Vote For Both Lives tool, which you can access by clicking the button below.