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Press Release: Bill To Bring Abortion Time Limit In Line With European Median Received First Reading Today

Baroness Nicholson, former Director of the Save the Children Foundation, and a former member of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Human Rights, today received a first reading of her Abortion (Foetus Protection) Bill.

This Bill will bring the gestational time limit for most abortions, which are performed under section 1(1)(a) of the Abortion Act, down to 12 weeks, bringing it in line with the majority of EU countries that have a time limit for most abortions of 12 weeks or lower. It will not affect the time limit for other grounds for abortion, such as terminations performed on disability grounds or where continuing the pregnancy could risk the life of the pregnant women.

The UK’s gestational time limit for most abortion is currently twice that of the time limit for most abortions in the majority of other EU countries. Bringing the time limit in line with these countries may help prevent ‘abortion tourism’ from other jurisdictions in the EU.

At 12 weeks an unborn child is fully formed, has a heartbeat and all the organs, muscles, limbs and bones are in place. The baby’s fingers will soon begin to open and close, her toes will curl, her eye muscles will clench, and her mouth will make sucking movements.

Recent polling from ComRes showed that 70% of women want to see the abortion time limit reduced below the current time limit of 24-weeks. Of those that wanted to see the time limit reduced the largest group wanted to see it reduced to 12 weeks or below. The polling also showed that only 1% of women wanted to see an increase in the time limit to birth, demonstrating that there is very little real public support for the abortion lobby’s stated goal to introduce abortion on demand, for any reason, right through to birth.

The latest abortion statistics for England and Wales show that 82.27% of the 180,794 terminations performed under section 1(1)(a) occurred at 9 weeks gestation or earlier.

Baroness Nicholson said:

“The UK’s time limit for most abortions is currently twice that of the majority of our EU neighbours. My Bill will bring us in line with the EU average. This will not affect the majority of abortions, or those taking place due to rare and difficult circumstances. It will simply reflect and recognise the improvements in both our understanding of the unborn child, as well as the improvements in medical technology, and make our law consistent with that of the consensus in Western Europe”.

Fiona Bruce MP, MP for Congleton, said:

“I welcome this Bill; our laws should be updated to represent the improved understanding we have of unborn human life, and the ever-improving technology that allows us to sustain life outside of the womb. This Bill will both humanise and modernise our current laws, and remove the harms of allowing abortion at later points. Its passage will allow our law to much better reflect where we are as a society medically, and socially”.

Peter D. Williams, Executive Officer and spokesperson for Right To Life, said:

“At 12 weeks the unborn child is fully formed, has a heartbeat and all her organs are in place. Scientific progress has made it even more clear that we are dealing with a unique, irreplaceable human being here. It’s beyond belief that in 2017 we are currently aborting unborn children right up to 24 weeks”.


Further information on the Abortion (Foetus Protection) Bill is available here:

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