Over 800 medical professionals have issued an open letter urgently calling on Labour MP Diana Johnson to withdraw her amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that would introduce abortion on demand, for any reason, up to birth (including sex-selective abortion) to England and Wales which is expected to be debated and voted on today.
In an open letter to Johnson, they explain how 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.
They argue that “as health professionals, where required, we are responsible for the care of both women and their babies throughout pregnancy and childbirth. It [therefore] 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”.
They go on: “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”.
The letter goes on to explain that polls have consistently shown that a larger proportion of women want more, not fewer restrictions on abortion. They cite a Savanta ComRes poll that concluded 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.
A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said: “Diana Johnson’s amendment would remove all current legal safeguards around abortion provided by the Act, many of which protect women. It would be legal for an abortion to happen for any reason right through to birth. This would leave England and Wales with one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world”.
“It, therefore, makes total sense that so many medical professionals, whose vocation is to care for, and preserve the life of, human beings would be profoundly distressed by the idea of such radical abortion permissions”.
“Regardless of where MPs stand on the wider issue of abortion, we are calling on them to oppose this amendment on the basis that it would leave England and Wales with one of the most extreme abortion regimes in the world, where abortion is available up to birth, and that it is radically out of touch with the wishes of British women”.
“We are also calling on members of the public around the country to contact their MP using our email tool and ask them to speak and vote against Diana Johnson’s radical abortion amendment on Monday”.