Nadine Dorries’ call for UK abortion time limit to be lowered sparks fury

Nadine Dorries’ call for the time limit on abortions to be lowered by four weeks has sparked outrage among health professionals.

The culture secretary argued that the legal limit for termination of pregnancy in the UK, which is 24 weeks, should be lowered by a month.

But the Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire, who is also patient safety minister, said Radio Times she is in favor of the right to decide, as well as asking to eliminate the rule that stipulates that two doctors must give their consent for an abortion.

Katherine O’Brien of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), the UK’s leading provider of abortion services, said the independent Ms Dorries’ calls to stop the abortion time limit were “abhorrent”.

She said: “It was absolutely extraordinary at a time of great political crisis, a cabinet member chose this as an opportunity to attack abortion rights.

“When the government collapses around him, he decides to attack the right to abortion. It is also extraordinary, as last week Dominic Raab said that abortion was a settled issue in this country, but members of the government in the highest offices seek to restrict abortion.

Ms O’Brien noted that women seeking abortions after the 20-week cut-off point are “often in the most incredibly difficult circumstances”.

She added: “They may have had a diagnosis of fetal abnormality with a much wanted pregnancy or they may be young girls who have not had regular periods, so they don’t realize they are pregnant.”

Ms O’Brien argued that Ms Dorries’ position on the abortion time limit demonstrates “a total lack of understanding of why people have abortions after 20 weeks”.

“No one wants to have an abortion,” she added. “Let alone a late-term abortion that involves surgery. It is a difficult procedure. It’s not something anyone wants to go through.”

Ms. Dorries has repeatedly called for the time limit on abortions to be lowered from 24 weeks to 20 weeks and sought to revise legislation to waive the role of abortion providers in counseling women.

Louise McCudden, of MSI Reproductive Choices UK, another leading provider of abortion services, said: “There is no clinical rationale or evidence base for lowering the abortion time limit, and this would contradict World Health Organization guidance. Health.

“The vast majority of abortions occur before 10 weeks. The extremely rare cases that occur during the 20 weeks are often complex and sensitive cases, such as fatal fetal anomalies or young girls who have been raped or have been slower to realize they were pregnant.

“Criminalizing women and health providers in these situations does not benefit anyone. Instead of restricting time limits, we should be looking at ways to better protect women and girls against our outdated abortion laws.”

A study, conducted by YouGov and MSI Reproductive Choices UK, previously found that nine in 10 UK adults think women should be able to access abortion services in Britain and specifically identify as “pro-choice”.

Commenting on Ms Dorries’ comments, Pam Lowe, a sociologist who specializes in anti-abortion activism in the UK, said: “The anti-abortion movement often focuses on issues like lowering the time limit as a step-by-step strategy to restrict abortion more generally.”

Dr Lowe, senior lecturer in sociology and politics at Aston University, argued that this form of “tactic was used successfully by” anti-abortion groups in many US states.

She added: “Despite what some believe, abortions later in pregnancy are not irresponsible decisions by irresponsible women, but are generally due to circumstances beyond their control, such as a complication in the pregnancy or difficulties in accessing care sooner. abortion services.

While Dani Anderson, of the Abortion Support Network, insisted that “there is no medical basis” for an amendment to the legal limit on abortion.

“Lowering the limit will pose a serious risk to women’s lives,” he added. “Second-trimester abortions are a vital part of health care and what we need now is the decriminalization of abortion, rather than following in the footsteps of the United States and further restricting access.”

In the UK, abortions are permitted up to 23 weeks and six days of pregnancy, but can be performed later if continuing the pregnancy poses a significant risk to the woman’s life or if there are serious fetal abnormalities.

Abortions are still considered a criminal act in England, Scotland and Wales under the Abortion Act 1967. If any medical professional performs an abortion outside the terms of the law, they risk facing criminal penalties.

Legislation passed in 1861 means that any woman who terminates a pregnancy without obtaining legal permission from two doctors, who must agree that continuing it would be risky to the woman’s physical or mental health, can face life in prison. But abortion providers, charities, medical bodies and parliamentarians have spent years demanding that abortion be decriminalized in the UK.

The criticism of Ms. Dorries comes after the dismantling of the US Supreme Court. Roe vs. Wade – the landmark decision that legalized abortion across the country in 1973 – late last month.

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