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What do the three amendments do?

A cross-party group of MPs have come together to introduce three amendments to the Government’s Health and Care Bill.

Time-limit reduction

Reduce the UK abortion time limit from 24 weeks to 22 weeks.

Sex-selective abortion ban

Introduce a ban on sex-selective abortion.

Disability-selective abortion

Stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot.

THE THREE AMENDMENTS

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amendment ONE

Time-limit
reduction

Amendment NC31 reduces the upper gestational limit for abortion from 24 to 22 weeks’ gestation. 

The latest guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine establishes 22 weeks’ gestation to be the point of viability and enables doctors to intervene to save premature babies from 22 weeks. The latest research indicates that a significant number of babies born at 22 weeks’ gestation can survive outside the womb, and this number increases with proactive perinatal care.

This leaves a real contradiction in British law. In one room of a hospital, doctors could be working to save a baby born alive before 23 weeks whilst, 

in another room, a doctor could perform an abortion that would end the life of a baby at the same age.

Our time limit on abortion is also more extreme than the majority of other European countries, being double the median time limit among EU countries of 12 weeks’ gestation.

Further information on amendment NC31 is available in the briefing here.

Where does the public stand on reducing the abortion time limit?

70%
of women support a reduction of the time limit for abortion from 24 weeks to 20 weeks or below.
icon sex selective

amendment two

Sex-selective abortion ban

Amendment NC51 clarifies that abortion on the ground of sex of the foetus is illegal.

Sex-selective abortion is the practice of terminating a pregnancy based upon the predicted sex of the unborn child.

A
recent BBC investigation revealed evidence that new NIPT pre-natal tests are being used on a widespread basis to determine the sex of babies early in pregnancy and some women are coming under intense pressure to undergo sex-selective abortions.

An undercover Telegraph investigation revealed that doctors were agreeing to provide sex-selective abortions “no questions asked”, and uncovered that sex-selective abortions were being offered in the UK, including by a doctor who worked both privately and for the NHS.

There is an increasing body of first-hand testimony from UK-resident women who say that they have been coerced into obtaining sex-selective abortions in the UK and abroad. A Department of Health and Social Care report on sex-selective abortion detailed the personal testimonies of women who had been coerced into obtaining a sex-selective abortion in the UK by their partner or family.

Further information on amendment NC51 is available in the briefing here.

Where does the general public stand on banning sex-selective abortion?

91%
of women agree that gender-selective abortion should be explicitly banned by the law.
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amendment three

Disability-selective abortion

Amendment NC52 introduces an upper gestational limit on abortion on the grounds of disability equal to the upper gestational limit set out in section (1)(1)(a) of the Abortion Act.

Currently, abortion for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot is available right up to birth. This contrasts with the time limit set out under section 1(1)(a) of the Abortion Act, which is set at 24 weeks.

A recent court case was brought against the Government for allowing disability discrimination in abortion by Heidi Crowter, 26, who has Down’s syndrome and Máire Lea-Wilson, whose son has Down’s syndrome. Ms Crowter has consistently described how the current law “makes me feel that my life is not as valuable as anyone else’s”, whilst Ms Lea-Wilson was “placed under intense pressure” to have an abortion after a 34-week scan revealed her son had Down’s syndrome.

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has recommended the UK update its law on abortion, specifically suggesting they amend abortion legislation to clarify abortion should not be singling out babies with disabilities.

Current abortion legislation is out of date and is a throwback to a time when we had different attitudes to the societal inclusion and contribution of people with disabilities. 

Further information on amendment NC52 is available in the briefing here.

Where does the public stand on disability abortion?

Only 1 in 3
people think it is acceptable to ban abortion for gender or race but allow it for disability.

Act now

Email your MP asking them to support the disability, sex-selective and time-limit abortion amendments: