Press release – Liberal Democrats pledge to introduce extreme abortion law

20 November 2019 – The Liberal Democrats have pledged to introduce an extreme abortion law to the United Kingdom in their manifesto, released this afternoon.

The manifesto outlines that the party will ‘decriminalise’ abortion through to 24-weeks right across the UK.

Abortion in England, Wales and Scotland is currently legal under the criteria set out in the 1967 Abortion Act. In 2018, 200,608 abortions took place in England and Wales on local residents, this being the highest figure ever – and comes after the recent news that five teenagers had at least their sixth abortion in 2018.

The term ‘decriminalise’ is a misnomer used by abortion campaigners to describe the removal of almost all current safeguards around abortion.

The campaign to ‘decriminalise’ abortion has been led by Diana Johnson MP who has made it clear that she is seeking to repeal sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Persons Act in England and Wales.

Repealing these provisions 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 to England and Wales, removing almost all the legal safeguards around abortion provided by the Abortion Act. (see briefing here for further details on the implications of this change in law). Even if the Liberal Democrats retained ‘the existing 24-week limit’ almost all existing legal safeguards around abortion would be removed prior to 24-weeks.

Repealing sections 58 and 59 would leave England and Wales with one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world. The change would position England and Wales drastically away from Europe where the most common abortion time limit among EU countries is 12 weeks

Former Stoke-on-Trent South MP, Rob Fello, was recently deselected for having the wrong ‘values’, after voting to oppose sex-selective abortion while he was an MP.

The release of the manifesto has come as Right To Life UK have 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 – policies that will save lives by protecting and supporting both mother and child. These policies are likely to be brought forward by politicians in the next parliament. 

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:

“Is the record number of 200,608 abortions for English and Welsh resident in 2018 not enough for the Liberal Democrats? Is 1 in 4 babies being aborted not enough for the Liberal Democrats? Is the recent news that five teenagers had at least their sixth abortion in 2018 not enough for the Liberal Democrats? Clearly not.

The proposed law change would leave us with one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world and further position England and Wales drastically away from Europe where the most common abortion time limit among EU countries is 12 weeks.

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 Liberal Democrats 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.

The Liberal Democrats’ 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 want 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.”

ENDS

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