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Tuesday 25th October 2016

24-week abortion limit backed

21st May 2008

The upper limit for abortion to be carried out in Britain is to remain at 24 weeks.


In a free vote at the House of Commons, MPs rejected attempts to see that limit cut from 24 to 22 weeks and a 20-week limit proposed by Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, who used to be a nurse, was also rejected.

Her proposal was defeated by 332 votes to 190 while the move to bring in a 22-week limit was opposed by 304 votes to 233.

A proposal by Catholic cabinet ministers Ruth Kelly, Des Browne and Paul Murphy voted for cutting the limit to 12 weeks was also thrown out.

The votes on the abortion limit came after debates on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

Health Minister Dawn Primarolo maintained there was no evidence requiring the abortion laws to be changed and added: “The upper gestational limit for termination of pregnancy was set by Parliament in 1990 at 24 weeks because the scientific evidence of the time was that the threshold of viability had increased and babies were increasingly surviving at 24 weeks and above.

“That was the case in 1990 and it’s certainly the case now.?

In England and Wales, there were 193,737 abortions in 2006 with 54.9% of them carried out before nine weeks. Only 1.5% of abortions were carried out between 20 and 24 weeks.

During the debate an attempt to ban hybrid animal embryos was defeated, with a move to ban “saviour siblings? was voted down by 342 votes to 163.


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