Pro-life victory as major attempt to introduce Europe’s most extreme abortion law fails

An attempt to hijack the UK Government’s flagship Domestic Abuse Bill with two extreme abortion proposals has failed. 

The Speaker of the House, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, announced yesterday afternoon that amendment New Clause 29, which would have introduced abortion for any reason up to 28 weeks, would not be selected for debate.

Diana Johnson MP later withdrew amendment New Clause 28, which would have allowed both medical and surgical abortions to take place in any location if a woman is in an abusive relationship, following a good number of strong speeches against it.

Stirring speeches from Fiona Bruce MP and Carla Lockhart MP, along with a number of other MPs who don’t share their pro-life position on abortion, made it clear that this amendment would have had serious negative consequences for victims of domestic abuse.

As a result, it appears that the abortion lobby realised the extreme likelihood of their radical amendment being defeated and encouraged Diana Johnson to withdraw it.

If the Labour MP had pushed the amendment to a vote and lost, this would have been the first time a pro-abortion amendment or Bill had been defeated in a vote in UK history.

Pro-life MP Fiona Bruce MP put forward an amendment calling for a review of the current temporary measures allowing ‘DIY’ abortions. The amendment called for the Government to conduct an “an inquiry into the safety, number, and impact of abortions carried out under the temporary coronavirus crisis provisions where the place of abortion was the woman’s home”.

The Government subsequently agreed to a full inquiry into the temporary ‘DIY’ abortion measures.

Stirring speeches against extreme abortion amendment

Contrary to the abortion lobby’s claims and the aims of the Domestic Abuse Bill, New Clause 28 would have likely resulted in a far greater number of women being coerced or forced into an unwanted abortion. 

By making both medical and surgical abortions legal outside of a hospital setting or place approved by the Secretary of State and removing the requirement for an in-person consultation, it would be difficult for physicians and providers to ascertain if abuse or coercion is involved.

The extreme change could have compromised the privacy of the patient and, in theory, would have allowed an abuser to hide in the background of an ‘electronic’ consultation.

Additionally, New Clause 28 would have removed the current 9 weeks and 6 days’ gestation time limit on ‘DIY’ home abortions which is present under the current temporary regulations.

This concern was raised in the House of Commons last night by Conservative MP Fiona.

Speaking against the amendment, the pro-life MP said she could not put forward key objections any better than a response from a female GP who she quotes as saying:

“I am very concerned about the proposed changes to new clause 28. It is extraordinary that it should be argued that a woman suffering or at risk of domestic abuse, seeking abortion should somehow be considered to be at less risk if she consults a doctor remotely by telemedicine and given abortifacients to take at home. 

“Where is the opportunity to check with her, privately, that she is not being coerced or that she may be in danger, to examine her to determine her stage of pregnancy, to offer support and clear advice in a place of safety? As a medical practitioner working remotely, how can I reliably ensure she is at the stage of pregnancy she says she is, as the use of abortifacients used later than the 9 weeks 6 days limit carries greater risk of complications which I would be responsible for providing care for? And how can I provide assurance that this woman is suffering from domestic abuse unless it has been previously disclosed to me… These factors are virtually impossible to verify without a face to face consultation.”

Speaking from a personal capacity, Fiona Bruce then went on to say: “This is a domestic abuse Bill; it should not be hijacked by those continuously campaigning on another issue and constantly looking for opportunities in this place to add badly worded amendments to Bills with unforeseen implications and complications.” 

Alex Stafford MP echoed Fiona Bruce’s concerns and said such a “seismic change” in the UK’s abortion law shouldn’t be “tacked on” to the Domestic Abuse Bill. 

Outlining his concerns with the amendment the MP for Rother Valley said: “Disturbingly, the new clause does not have a gestation period limit and is not limited to medical abortion. 

“In terms of addressing domestic abuse, as we have heard, the new clause could in fact worsen the very problem that it tries to address. 

“By removing confidential face-to-face meetings between women and a medical professional, it becomes impossible for clinicians to establish whether the woman was coerced into requesting the home pill or even whether it was in fact her on the telephone. This is a serious point. We should not do anything that could make domestic abuse any worse.”

Carla Lockhart MP shared the concerns of a person who works with women experiencing domestic abuse in England who said: “We work every day with women who experience domestic abuse. We see the way they are controlled and manipulated. To me, this suggests the legislation will only be making that worse. It will give abusers more power and more reason to keep the woman being abused at home, away from people who can really help them.” 

The pro-life MP said MPs “should not hinder” professionals like these in their work and that “laws should be designed to help vulnerable women escape domestic abuse situations, not enable them to remain in those horrific situations”.

She added: “The new clause seems to be a clear attempt to use the Domestic Abuse Bill as a vehicle to advance an agenda that is emphatic on expanding access to abortion, seemingly failing to acknowledge that allowing women to have an abortion at locations other than hospitals or places approved by the Secretary of State has already led to serious complications. We all know that abortion is not the answer to domestic abuse. Surely we should be addressing how women find themselves in such difficult situations, and take measures to prevent that?”

Barrister and Chair of the Justice Select Committee Sir Robert Neill raised concerns from his experience as a criminal practitioner saying: “on more than one occasion, I found instances where part of the abuse had been to force the victim to have an abortion.” 

Highlighting that the new amendment would further compound this problem, he added: “The irony is that reliance on a telephone call to procure the means of doing that does not give the safeguard of knowing who is standing next to the victim when she makes the telephone call. I have certainly seen instances of that in practice, as other criminal practitioners will have done. Although the intentions are good and well meant, I have a concern about moving down the route set out in new clause 28.”

Abortion up to 28 weeks avoided

Amendment New Clause 29, which was not selected for debate and will, therefore, not be included in Domestic Abuse Bill legislation, would have made extreme changes to abortion legislation by repealing sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act. This would have left England and Wales with no abortion law through to 28 weeks.

Almost all current legal safeguards on abortion would have been removed, up until when a child is capable of being born alive, with a ceiling of 28 weeks.

This would have introduced abortion on demand, for any reason – including sex-selective abortion – up to 28 weeks. The change would have been the most extreme change to abortion legislation since 1967 and would have left England and Wales with one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world. 

Women against extreme abortion proposals

The failed proposals were radically out of step with the opinions of women on abortion. 

Polling from Savanta ComRes on whether time limits for abortion should be increased shows that only 1% of women want the time limit to be extended; in contrast, 70% of women are  in favour of a reduction in time limits.

The polling also showed that 77% of women agree that doctors should be required to verify in person that a patient seeking an abortion is not under pressure from a third party to undergo the abortion, and 91% of women agree that gender-selective abortion should be explicitly banned by the law.

Major victory

A spokesperson for Right to Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“This is a major victory for the unborn child and women facing unplanned pregnancies. These amendments would have left the unborn child with considerably worse protections and removed many of the current safeguards which protect women facing unplanned pregnancies.

“Thank you to the thousands of people that rallied over the last week to get friends and family to email their MPs. MPs received more emails ahead of this vote than they have ever received ahead of an abortion vote.

“Thank you to the amazing group of pro-life MPs in Parliament who have worked so hard to ensure that these extreme amendments were defeated.

“Thank you to the large number of organisations that have all come together to encourage their supporters to contact MPs and ensure this major attempt to introduce extreme abortion changes was defeated.”

Radical abortion amendments tabled to Domestic Abuse Bill

Two radical amendments have been tabled to the Domestic Abuse Bill by Diana Johnson MP ahead of the final stages of the Bill in the House of Commons which will take place on Monday 6 July.

New Clause 28 seeks to allow both medical and surgical ‘DIY’ home abortions to take place on a permanent basis in any location if a woman is in an abusive relationship.

This new clause goes even further than the Government’s current temporary measure allowing medical and surgical abortions legal outside of a hospital or place approved by the Secretary of State. The current temporary measure allows ‘DIY’ abortions only up to 9 weeks and 6 days’ gestation for safety reasons. However, there is no similar time limit outlined in this amendment.

New Clause 29 seeks to ‘decriminalise’ abortion by repealing sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Persons Act.

This would leave England and Wales with no abortion law through to 28-weeks. This would mean abortion on demand, for any reason (including sex-selective abortion). The change would be the most extreme change to abortion legislation since 1967 and would leave England and Wales with one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world. 

The abortion lobby announced their intentions to hijack the Domestic Abuse Bill with these extreme amendments earlier this week, with abortion provider BPAS urging their supporters to lobby MPs ahead of next week’s vote.

New Clause 28: More harm for women

Contrary to BPAS’ claims, and the aims of the Domestic Abuse Bill, New Clause 28 would likely result in a far greater number of women being coerced or forced into an unwanted abortion. 

By making both medical and surgical abortions legal outside of a hospital setting or place approved by the Secretary of State and removing the requirement for an in-person consultation, it will be difficult for physicians and providers ascertain if abuse or coercion is involved.

The extreme change could compromise the privacy of the patient and, in theory, could allow an abuser to hide in the background of an ‘electronic’ consultation.

According to an investigation conducted by the Independent last year, already “one in seven women in the UK have been bullied into either getting pregnant or having an abortion.” New Clause 28 does nothing to address this coercion and will likely make the situation much worse.

Earlier this year, a pharmacist and self-styled pastor, who sexually abused children, covered up his crimes on some of his vulnerable victims by obtaining medical abortion pills through his role as a pharmacist.

Dr Gregory Gardner, a longstanding GP and honorary clinical lecturer at the University of Birmingham, has revealed how the radical proposed changes in law could open more children and women up to abuse and coerced abortion.

In an expert witness statement for a UK Court of Appeal legal challenge against ‘DIY’ home abortions, the leading doctor said: “It will be difficult if not impossible to verify by phone or video whether a woman is undergoing any kind of duress to have an abortion.

“There does not seem to have been any consideration given to this in the proposed change in policy. There will be women who need delicate counselling to discover coercion or other forms of abuse.”

Furthermore, by removing the 10-week limit, late-term abortions, similar to the one that caused the death of an unborn baby at 28 weeks in May, will likely become more commonplace.

In addition, it was revealed a further eight cases of women taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills beyond the current 10-week limit were being investigated.

A number of women have also come forward to share the serious problems they’ve experienced after taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills.

New Clause 29: Abortion on demand up to 28 weeks

As the Abortion Act was passed to create exceptions to sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Persons Act and Infant Life Preservation Act, a repeal of sections 58 and 59 of the OAPA would effectively result in the majority of the Abortion Act becoming moot.

Repealing these provisions would introduce abortion on demand, for any reason, up to 28 weeks in England and Wales. There would be no abortion law up to 28-weeks.

This would not only leave England and Wales with the most extreme abortion law in Europe, but also allow for sex-selective abortions to take place up to 28 weeks. 

Canada has been described as a “haven” for sex-selective terminations, which often single out baby girls due to a preference among certain parents and some cultures for having sons, due to the country’s permissive abortion laws.

Despite the current law, there is also evidence of this practice in the UK, and it is possible that a form of ‘abortion tourism’ could arise from countries which protect unborn babies from sex-selective abortions. 

In addition, a number of other safeguards, protecting both women and unborn babies, would be removed from the current law. 

There would be no legal requirement that two doctors must certify an abortion, and doctors would no longer be required to participate in an abortion procedure. Instead, healthcare assistants, nurses, and pharmacists could carry out abortions without a trained doctor present in the case of a complication.

Extreme proposals not in line with what women want

The extreme proposals being put forward by BPAS and the abortion lobby are completely out of line with where women stand on the issue. 

Recent polling, conducted by Savanta ComRes, on whether time limits for abortion should be increased showed that only 1% of women wanted the time limit to be extended. In contrast 70% of women favoured a reduction in time limits.  

Furthermore, a poll from March 2014, showed that 94% of women agreed that a woman requesting an abortion should always be seen in person by a qualified doctor. This current requirement in law would be removed under the abortion lobby’s plans. 

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said: “It is highly inappropriate for the abortion lobby to hijack the Domestic Abuse Bill in a way that not only undermines its support for victims of domestic abuse and their families, but could also result in women and their babies facing more harm. 

“Polling shows that this extreme proposal is not supported by women, with only 1% of women wanting the abortion time limit to be increased beyond 24-weeks.

“MPs should reject these extreme amendments and commit to bringing forward sensible legislation with 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.”

Opportunistic abortion activists exploiting Coronavirus

Opportunistic abortion activists around the world are attempting to exploit the Coronavirus pandemic in a bid to introduce more extreme abortion legislation.

In the UK, Labour MP Diana Johnson bemoaned that the current crisis could disrupt the abortion regime which was due to be imposed on the people of Northern Ireland by the end of March 2020.

In contrast, pro-life MP Maria Caulfield has announced she will return to frontline NHS work to help save lives and support the fight against the Coronavirus.

Diana Johnson, a key architect and supporter of imposing abortion on Northern Ireland, has suggested termination ‘services’ should’ve been introduced sooner and described the past six months as a “lost opportunity”.

Speaking in the House of Commons, she said: “Of course, abortion was decriminalised in October 2019 and we now see the lost opportunity of this medical procedure not being provided over the last six months in Northern Ireland. The failure to do that means that we are now in a much more difficult position with covid-19.”

She also sought assurances that the collapse of airline Flybe would not affect Northern Irish women from seeking a Government-funded abortion in England.

The Minister of State for the Northern Ireland Office, Mr Robin Walker, stated there would be no disruption and terminations would go ahead.

He added: “The Government are under a clear legal duty, which this House put on it, to make regulations that provide lawful access to abortion services in Northern Ireland by 31 March 2020. To comply with the legal requirement, we will shortly lay regulations in Parliament.”

Across Europe and in America, abortion activists are calling on legislators to remove safeguards around abortion pills due to many countries limiting travel, during the Coronavirus.

Pro-abortion bodies around the world such as the Abortion Rights Campaign and Planned Parenthood propose the use of ‘Facetime abortions‘ where an abortion consultation happens over the phone.

The abortion pills (mifepristone and misoprostol) would then be sent in the post or picked up from a pharmacy. There would nothing to stop abortion pills being taken at other locations such as schools, colleges etc, possibly under coercion from third-parties.

Right To Life UK has previously raised concerns about the availability and use of abortion pills taken at home.

In 2018, the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, made it possible to take the 2nd pill used in a medical abortion (misoprostol) at home. In this case, it was the especially violent nature of  Pearson’s attack on his girlfriend that made his crime so clear.

However, the use of the abortion pill at home without any supervision, could make forced abortions far more difficult to detect.

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Clare McCarthy noted at the time: “[Making the second abortion pill available to take at home] poses a threat to vulnerable girls who are at risk from sex-trafficking or child-sex abuse, as the ‘home’ abortion could be used by their abusers as a means to more easily cover up trafficking or abuse scandals.

She added: “Self-administering these strong drugs is not to be taken lightly and the utmost quality of care should be provided to these women – especially those who suffer from complications afterwards.

“Irish Obstetrician Dr. Peter Bolyan, who campaigned for the legalisation of abortion in Ireland has admitted that: ‘there are serious dangers when women take [abortion pills] without supervision. We have knowledge of women who have taken them in excessive dosage and that can result in catastrophe for a woman such as a rupture of the uterus with very significant haemorrhage… And if that happens in the privacy of a woman’s home or perhaps in an apartment somewhere, that can have very, very serious consequences for women. So, it’s really important that these tablets are…dealt with in a supervised way…’

“Abortion clinics must be able to accurately track women during and after a medical abortion in order to provide the best safety and care to a post-abortive woman. This change in law would overlook this provision of care creating a potentially dangerous medical situation for women who are at risk. It leaves vulnerable and isolated women even more at risk and recklessly alone.

“The ‘home’ abortion is not a safe or sensible solution for women. It will significantly reduce the supervision and care that is provided to women during a medical abortion.

“Taking the abortion pill away from medical supervision totally avoids dealing with the real issues facing women in that situation. It makes no provision for real, affirmative aftercare for these women potentially leading to further emotional and medical risk.

“The government needs to address the reasons women seek out abortion services in such high numbers in this country, often because of; vulnerability, isolation, lack of financial or emotional support, or pressure from a partner.”

A study of 42,600 early abortions in Finland – where there is good registry data, unlike England and Wales – found that six weeks post abortion, complications after medical abortions were four times higher than after surgical – 20% compared to 5.6%.

Pro-abortion MP confirms plan to hijack Domestic Abuse Bill with extreme abortion proposals

Diana Johnson MP has announced her intention to hijack the Domestic Abuse Bill with a radical amendment to introduce extreme abortion legislation to England & Wales.

Speaking at the Second Reading of the Domestic Abuse Bill, the pro-abortion MP championed a similar amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill, that could see abortion for any reason up to 28-weeks imposed up on the province. 

She declared it was time to do the same in this Bill, to introduce the same extreme abortion regime to England and Wales.

In July, in the absence of a functioning Stormont government, Westminster voted for an amendment to repeal sections 58 and 59 of the Offence Against the Person Act in Northern Ireland if Stormont’s Executive is not restored by 21 October.

Johnson is expected to introduce a similar amendment to change the law in England and Wales, to the Domestic Abuse Bill, during the Bill’s Committee Stage.

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.

This would leave England and Wales with one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world and would be the biggest change to abortion legislation since 1967.

All other MPs who spoke on the topic of abortion, during yesterday’s Second Reading, were united in their criticism of Johnson and her plans to hijack the Domestic Abuse Bill, which would remove protections for unborn babies with a disability and allow sex-selective abortion.

Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Maria Miller, commented that while some MPs had been quite open about their wish to change abortion law, the Domestic Abuse Bill is not the place to do it.

“I make a plea not to Ministers but to colleagues. Members need to resist the temptation to use the Bill to remedy all the issues, concerns, and campaigns in recent years to do with domestic abuse. Some of them have been quite open about their wish to include abortion reform in the Bill, and while there is clearly a strong case for reform, with which I would agree, this is not the place to do it. I do not believe that we have the time in this Parliament to give that issue the attention that it demands. My plea is for a separate Bill, sponsored by a Back-Bench MP in the usual way, to deal with that, and to deal with it swiftly.”

Pro-life MP Fiona Bruce said pointed to the unforeseen circumstances about to play out in Northern Ireland as a reason why the issue of extensive abortion reform “should not be undertaken by using Back-Bench amendments to an unrelated Bill.”

She added: “To learn our lesson on this, we need only look to the unforeseen circumstances now about to play out, sadly, in Northern Ireland later this month, with a five-month lacuna in the law on abortion there about to start because this place rushed through, with completely inadequate scrutiny, amendments to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Bill.”

Pro-life MP criticises move to hijack Domestic Abuse Bill with abortion on demand

Huw Merriman said, “it is essential that the Bill remains roughly in a shape that allows it to succeed”.

“I agree strongly with my hon. Friend the Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce) about abortion reform, which I very much favour, I do not believe this is the right Bill to deliver that reform”, he added.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK Catherine Robinson said:

“It is highly inappropriate for pro-abortion MPs to hijack the Domestic Abuse Bill in a way that not only undermines its support for victims of domestic abuse and their families but also removes current legal safeguards for unborn babies, allowing abortion for any reason up to 28 weeks.

“Diana Johnson’s horrific amendment would introduce one of the most extreme abortion regimes in the world right across England and Wales.“

ComRes polling from 2017 showed the majority of people want the time limit for abortion to be reduced, to below 20 weeks, not increased. Should Diana Johnson follow through in her threats and introduce her radical abortion amendment, we hope MPs will take note that the majority of people do not want this and swiftly reject her proposals.