India approves draft bill that could introduce disability-selective abortion up to birth

India’s Union Cabinet has approved a draft bill that would remove safeguards for unborn babies and introduce disability-selective abortion, possibly for conditions including Down’s syndrome and cleft lip, up to birth. 

Under the current law, abortion is permitted up to 12 weeks in cases where a medical practitioner finds the the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman could be at risk or 

if there is a risk the baby could be born with a disability or physical abnormality, such as a cleft lip. 

Abortion is then permitted up until the 20th week of pregnancy with the approval of two doctors, and only beyond that if the mother’s life is in danger. 

The cabinet, which is chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, voted last week to introduce a bill that will allow women to seek abortions at 20 weeks gestation, with the approval of one doctor, rather than 12 weeks.  

Additionally, a “special category” of women, including disabled women, will be able to seek an abortion up to 24 weeks with the approval of two doctors.

The proposed changes don’t just single out disabled women, but also babies with disabilities. 

The latest proposal states that the “upper gestation limit not to apply in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by [the] Medical Board.” Language worded similarly in the UK has allowed disability abortion up to birth. 

Last year, India’s Minister for Health was unashamedly candid about allowing disability-selective abortion up to birth, boasting about his plans to change the abortion law he stated: “The Ministry [of Health] has proposed to amend the MTP Act, 1971, to… expand access to abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian and social grounds.” 

Fresh legislation to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 1971 will now be presented, debated and voted during the current session of parliament, which ends on Friday 3 April.

The cabinet’s decision, to introduce the bill, comes just months after the Government told the Supreme Court in September that the 20-week limit could not be changed, saying a foetus’s right to life transcends all other rights. 

Due to previous reports on sex-selective abortion in India, it is likely that the majority of abortions will have been performed on unborn baby girls.

Despite outlawing sex-selective abortion and pre-natal sex detection in 1994, census data from 2011 showed there were 914 girls to every 1,000 boys for children up to the age of six. In some northern states that ratio was as low as 850, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The World Health Organization says the natural sex ratio at birth is about 105 boys to every 100 girls.

Last year, it was revealed out of 216 births across dozens of villages in northern India, over a 3 month period, not a single girl was born.

Last month, the remains of what is estimated to be twenty-four unborn babies – were discovered in a blood-soaked bag, in West Bengal, India.

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

“Just months after being told the right to life transcends all other rights, the Indian Government has decided it will expand abortion access in the country and, therefore, deny the right to life to hundreds of thousands of babies every year. 

“Even worse, the new proposals single out those with disabilities, with the Minister for Health unashamedly announcing his plans to ‘expand access to abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian and social grounds’.

“This not only involves singling out babies with disabilities, but also singling out mothers with disabilities and introducing new criteria that will allow for abortion between 20 and 24 weeks for women who have a disability themselves.

“Unfortunately, these extreme abortion proposals hit closer to home than you might think. The Conservative Government’s abortion framework for Northern Ireland, for example, will also permit disability abortion up to birth for conditions such as Down’s syndrome and cleft lip. 
“This abortion framework goes far beyond what the Government was required to do after it voted to impose extreme abortion legislation on Northern Ireland. Please join thousands  of others in joining our Protect women, Save lives campaign and urge your MP to write to the Prime Minister asking him not to go further than required and implement disability abortion.”

Baby girl born at 24 weeks with hands the size of a penny thriving at home

A baby girl given just a 5% chance of survival has beaten the odds and is now thriving at home with her parents Kym and Ryan.

With hands smaller than 1p coins, Isabella Evans was the smallest premature baby to be born in the UK, in over 15 years, at her birth on 14 June 2018.

Isabella had to be delivered prematurely by emergency caesarean after complications at 24 weeks, weighing just 12oz (340g), leaving doctors to fear the worst.

For the first week of Isabella was placed in bubble wrap to keep her warm and an incubator to help her breathe. Her parents could only hold their daughter in blankets for five minutes at a time.

And, at just three-weeks-old, the ‘little fighter’ underwent two life-saving operations including surgery for a ruptured bowel.

Isabella refused to give in and fought for six months in order to go home.

She has recovered well and has been enjoying life at home for just over a year, now weighing 13lb 7oz – the size of a healthy baby.

Her mother told the Mail Online: “Realistically, she shouldn’t be here. There were so many times we could have lost her. But she never stopped fighting.”

She added: “She is crawling and starting to stand up, and has a great appetite. Her favourite is a cheese and avocado sandwich. She’s so happy, and has a smile for everyone she meets. It’s incredible how far she’s come.”

Kym and Ryan are grateful for the care and support Isabella received from the NHS and its neonatal team.

Ryan said: ”There are no words for the gratitude I have. They have saved my daughter’s life countless times and I’d be nothing without her.”

Despite the fact that increasing numbers of babies born prematurely in the UK survive, in practice abortion is in most cases up to 24 weeks.

In fact, the survival rate for extremely premature babies has doubled over the past decade, prompting new guidance allowing doctors to try to save babies born as early as 22 weeks into a pregnancy.

The previous clinical guidance, drafted in 2008, included a presumption against attempting to provide life-saving treatment to a baby born before 23 weeks.

On Sunday, two prominent pro-life politicians called for a review of the current time limits after new evidence emerged suggesting that unborn babies at just 13 weeks gestation could be suffering pain as they are being aborted.

A spokesperson for Right to Life UK Catherine Robinson said:

“Parliament should urgently revisit abortion time limits. It has been over a decade since they last debated fully.

“Independent polling from Savanta ComRes shows that 70% of women in the UK want to see the time limit for abortion reduced to 20 weeks or below. Our current abortion time limit is way out of line with the rest of Europe where the most common abortion time limit is 12 weeks.

“It’s time that our laws were brought into line with public opinion, modern science and the rest of Europe.”

Call for review of abortion time limits after new evidence reveals unborn babies could feel pain at just 13 weeks

New evidence has suggested unborn babies at 13 weeks gestation could be suffering pain as they are being aborted.

Currently, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists author all clinical guidelines for UK abortion providers. They rely on a 2010 review they undertook into fetal awareness when providing guidance to abortion providers on whether unborn children in an abortion can feel pain. 

They claim that the unborn baby is in an unconscious state and does not reach consciousness until birth. They have been criticised for this conclusion being based on the evidence from only one paper from 1986, an experiment on sheep foetuses exposed to low oxygen levels.

But two medical researchers, including a ‘pro-choice’ British pain expert who used to think there was no chance unborn babies could feel pain before 24-weeks, say recent studies strongly suggest the assumption is incorrect.

In an article, published in the influential Journal of Medical Ethics, the researchers say there is now “good evidence” that the brain and nervous system, which start developing at 12 weeks’ gestation, are sufficient enough for the baby to feel pain.

They argue that women considering an abortion at this stage of pregnancy should be told about the pain their unborn baby could experience while being terminated.

Noting the increased concerns of women over the pain unborn babies may experience, they say medical staff should ask if the woman wants the baby to be given pain relief.

To carry on regardless of new evidence “flirts with moral recklessness,” they add.

Currently, the use of pain relief in the UK is not required by law or suggested in official guidelines. This in itself is contradicted by the standard NHS practice of giving painkillers to unborn babies receiving surgery in the womb for spina bifida

The lead author of the article is British professor Stuart Derbyshire, who has acted as a consultant to the US’ largest abortion provider – Planned Parenthood – and the Pro-Choice Forum in the UK.

In 2006, he wrote in the British Medical Journal that not talking to women seeking abortions about pain experienced by unborn babies was “sound policy based on good evidence that foetuses cannot experience pain”.

However, due to recent studies, he says “it is now clear that the consensus is no longer tenable.”

Professor Derbyshire and Dr Bockmann advise: “Given the evidence that the foetus might be able to experience something like pain during later abortions, it seems reasonable that the clinical team and the pregnant woman are encouraged to consider foetal analgesia [pain relief].”

The two medics add that their own “stark differences” on the morality of abortion “should not interfere with discussion of whether foetal pain is possible”.

Pro-life groups and leading politicians have called for a parliamentary review on abortion time limits, noting that the last debate had on this issue was in 2008 before any new evidence had come to light.

Pro-life MP Fiona Bruce said: “Given developing views and research on foetal pain, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ guidance on this issue in relation to abortion – which is now nearly ten years old – should be reviewed.”

Cross-bench peer Lord Alton, who is part of a parliamentary inquiry into foetal pain, said: “This new evidence adds further pressure on Parliament to urgently review our current abortion time limit. We last had a proper debate on time limits in 2008.”

Calls for a review of time limits were quickly rejected by the UK’s largest abortion provider, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, who boldly told the Mail on Sunday: “There is nothing in this paper which would lead to a change in practice.” 

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists declined to comment. 

This is in contrast to the French College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists guidelines which state: 

[English translation]: “Fetal analgesia is justified by pain stimulation in case of an intracardiac puncture, but also because the injection of KCl [potassium chloride] or death itself can be painful.”

A national survey of French pre-natal diagnosis centers revealed that for late-term abortions 97% of abortion clinics or hospitals surveyed will always give unborn babies pain relief prior to administering a lethal injection that induces a heart attack (known as feticide). 

A spokesperson for Right to Life UK Catherine Robinson said:

“In light of this new evidence, we back the calls of Fiona Bruce and Lord Alton in calling for an urgent parliamentary review of time limits.

“17,913 women in the UK underwent an abortion at 13 weeks or later, in 2018, without any guidance mandating the use of pain relief for the unborn baby at any age. Yet, babies undergoing correctional surgery in the womb for Spinal Bifida, from 20 weeks gestation, will experience minimal pain as they’ll be administered pain relief. 

“Why is there this discrepancy? Perhaps it is because the provision of painkillers to a baby that is about to have their life ended would help bring home the reality of abortion. To recognise their pain would have a deeply humanising effect on unborn babies, which is something that abortion supporters are keen to avoid. It would acknowledge that there is another human being who is being denied their right to life, while they are at their weakest and most vulnerable.

Thousands urge Labour Party to scrap abortion up to birth pledge

Thousands of people have signed a petition urging Jeremy Corbyn to scrap the Labour Party’s pledge to introduce abortion up to birth, for any reason, to the UK.

The life-and-death call comes from pro-life campaigners ahead of polling day tomorrow, amid fears the UK could have the most extreme abortion law in the world and become a hotspot for ‘abortion tourism’ for the rest of Europe.

Right To Life UK are encouraging supporters to find out where their local candidates stand on abortion by visiting using their recently launched candidate database tool which details voting records and which pledges a particular candidate has signed.

The Labour Party manifesto, released last month, outlines (page 48) that the party is seeking to ‘decriminalise abortions’.

Full decriminalisation of abortion involves repealing sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act along with the Infant Life Preservation Act. The Abortion Act 1967, sets out exceptions to this underlying legislation which provides a set of criteria outlining when these acts can legally be ignored. Under these exceptions over 200,000 abortions took place in England and Wales last year. 

Within the Act, there is a strict time limit of 24 weeks for abortions that are performed under section 1(1)(a) of the Act. If sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act and the Infant Life Preservation Act were repealed, the Abortion Act would become redundant, and so would the 24-week time limit.

Repealing sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act along with the Infant Life Preservation Act would scrap the current 24-week time limit for abortion – and abortion would be available on-demand, for any reason, up to birth. The upper time limit would be completely abolished.

The change would position England and Wales drastically away from the European Union, where the most common abortion time limit among EU countries is 12 weeks. It could mean the UK becomes a hotspot for ‘abortion tourism’ from countries that have more safeguards, in law, protecting unborn babies from termination.  

Pro-abortion commentators have applauded the decision, making it clear that full ‘decriminalisation’ would scrap our current legal time allowing for abortion to be available for any reason up to birth.

However, the proposal is completely out of line with where women stand on the issue. Polling from Savanta ComRes shows that 70 percent of women favour reducing the time limit on abortion; while only 1 percent are in favour of extending it.

Journalist Melanie McDonagh has condemned Labour for their radical proposals, saying: “this move by Labour to decriminalise the [abortion] procedure takes us into a very dark place…

“These are seismic changes concerning deeply important ethical issues — and they simply cannot go unremarked.

“How deeply ironic that the party that makes a big deal about being pro-women would make it possible to abort girl foetuses on the basis of gender.”

A spokesperson for Right to Life UK Catherine Robinson said:

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

“The Labour Party 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.

“Labour’s 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 wants to see our abortion time limits lowered to vote for MP candidates who have pledged to protect and support Both Lives.

“Please sign the petition to urge Jeremy Corbyn to scrap the pledge to introduce an extreme and inhumane abortion regime to the UK.”